Mighty Real: A Tribute to Sylvester

Djola Branner

Artist Bio

Mighty Real is an interdisciplinary theater performance that chronicles the life and times of the outrageous disco diva Sylvester. Mighty Real explores the flamboyant entertainer’s contribution to contemporary music, his effect on pop culture, and his public and private struggles as an openly gay black man surviving Anita Bryant’s campaign against homosexuality, the election of Ronald Reagan, and the advent of AIDS.

Award Year


Djola Branner

Djola Branner

Amherst, MA

Djola Branner, assistant professor of theatre at Hampshire College, received his BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz, his MA from San Francisco State University and his MFA from The New School for Drama (formerly known as Actors Studio Drama School). His interdisciplinary work, which combines music, movement and text as language, explores the broad gray area between performance art and theatre, and gives voice to individuals historically absent from the stage. He has presented throughout the US and abroad, and published in such anthologies as Voices Rising, Colored Contradictions and Staging Gay Lives. He has taught dance, acting and dramatic writing at Macalester College, University of Minnesota and The American Musical and Dramatic Academy.