The School of Theater and The Mason Players 2024-2025 Season

Djola Branner, Director of the School of Theater

Greetings School of Theater Community,

When asked to write a few words about where we are and where we’re going the first thing that came to mind was an analogy that I’m heard a hundred times. It connects to one of my “guilty” pleasures (though I admit I don’t feel that guilty about it). At the end of a hectic day, I like to kick up my feet and watch an hour or so of HGTV. I’m particularly fond of shows that focus on renovation. I like watching homeowners, designers, and tradespeople getting back to the bones of a structure. Not surprisingly, the work deemed less “sexy” is related to rewiring electrical systems and replacing outdated plumbing, but it’s critical to providing a clean, safe space for all the pretty floors and finishings. I think this analogy captures what we’ve been up to in the School of Theater. For the past two years we’ve been rebuilding from the ground up––rewriting our mission statement, aligning our pedagogy and production season with our values, streamlining degree programs so that theater majors and minors have more space to individualize curricular choices, fast-tracking pathways to graduate study, and providing more hands-on experience so that increased numbers of graduates are equipped to enter the work force upon earning their degrees.

And speaking of rebuilding... we’ve formed a small steering committee of theater faculty, Development Office staff, and a handful of board members from the Friends of Theater to bolster collaborations. The Friends annually provide encouragement, unconditional presence, and scholarships to our students thereby providing the opportunity to focus education instead on making ends meet. Anyone interested in joining this phenomenal group of donors/supporters should contact...

Additionally, our talented faculty continue to forge impressive careers in the DMV and beyond, several of them garnering honors and accolades including nominations for Helen Hayes Awards for best design, choreography, direction, and ensemble performances. Theses nominations notwithstanding, Professor Ed Gero will be inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre this spring! Congratulations to all of our brilliant faculty who continually challenge and inspire our students.

The short list of 2024 graduates off to do exciting things include Elizabeth Dupuy who will be attending the University of Tennessee at Knoxville as an MFA student in Sound & Media Design on a graduate assistantship, Jay Dews who will be working at the Brevard Music Center as an Assistant Stage Manager for Opera, and Walker Vlohas who is appearing Reefer Madness at the Next Stop Theater, The complete list of current students, graduating seniors, and recent alums forging a path in graduate degree programs and/or professional venues is impressive. 

In brief, we’ve been creating of a more vibrant community and culture, one that bolsters student-centered learning, greater opportunities for inclusiveness and belonging, one that reinvigorates relationships with community partners. While we haven’t exactly gone down to the studs, the School of Theater is rebuilding and innovating, clearing a path for students who want to enter theater as a profession and/or use the skills garnered during their time at George Mason––which include creative problem solving, critical thinking, self-expression, and collaboration––in whatever career they decide to pursue.  


Best regards,

Djola Branner

Director School of Theater