David Branson
: Artistic Director of CIA

Born in Melbourne, David Branson began his studies in drama with the Canberra Youth Theatre and continued them in Melbourne at Rusden College and at the Victorian College of the Arts.

From 1985 to 1996, he was Co-Artistic Director of Splinters Theatre of Spectacle. During that time, the company created over 20 major works in which David was involved in as an actor and as a director. With Splinters he performed and directed works such as: Cry Stinking Fish (1987) for the Melbourne Spoleto Festival; Gumboot Full of Blood (1988) and Cathedral of Flesh (1992), which won Best Promenade Theatre Performance Award, for the Adelaide Fringe Festival; Guardians of the Concourse (1993) for the National Festival of Australian Theatre, Canberra; Utopia/Distopia (1995) on Springbank Island, Canberra, and Faust - The Heat of Knowledge (1996) for the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the Australian National University.

David Branson and Jason Lehane
David Branson and Jason Lehane in BAAL

As an actor in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, David has performed with Frontline Theatre, Yellow House, La Mama Theatre, Eureka Theatre Company, Entr'acte, Jigsaw Theatre Company, Meryl Tankard, Eulea Kiraly and The Company, Pure Theatre, Canberra Repertory Theatre, Cake Eaters and for the Australian National Playwrights Conference in 1998 and 1999.

Since 1991, he has directed and taught for Canberra Youth Theatre. He co-directed Shopping for Boys (1993), which toured to the Edinburgh Festival, and Piper at the Gates of Hell (1994), which toured to the Hong Kong Youth Arts Festival in 1995. Most recently for Canberra Youth Theatre he directed Amongst the Wild Things for a season of performances in July 1998.

David is currently Artistic Director of CIA (Culturally Innovative Arts). For CIA he has directed and performed in the Dario Fo Festival (1997), Short Stabs (1997) and A Short Season of Short Plays (1998) - two series of new works by Australian writers. David led CIA's innovative Bouffon/Le Coq developmental project that culminated in the performance piece A Bum Sonata directed by David in June 1998. Recent company projects include the Harold Pinter Festival in September 1998 and the second season of Short Stabs in December 1998. David was nominated as Canberra Artist of the year 1998 and CIA received a Canberra Critics Circle Award for excellence and innovation in their 1998 program.

David and Pip Branson 
playing violin at Anna Voronoff and Greg Raymond's Wedding

For the National Multicultural Festival of 1998, he played the title role in CIA's production of Brecht's first play, Baal, and also directed his first, full length opera, Conbrio's commedia dell'arte production of II matrimonio segreto by Cimarosa. In November 1997, he was director of the highly acclaimed co-production by CIA and Stopera of Heinrich Heine - I, fool of fortune, by Jonathan Lees, This production was described as the theatrical highlight of the year by many of Canberra's critics and was awarded a Canberra Critics Circle Award in 1998. As a result of this collaboration, CIA and Stopera combined forces again in August 1998 and, directed by David, presented a successful production of The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, that marked the centenary of Brecht's birth.

In March 1999, David directed Stopera's highly, acclaimed production of Handell's Ariodante, collaborating with one of Australia's most talented opera conductors, Graham Abbott. This large-scale outdoor production designed and produced specifically for Stage 88, Commonwealth Gardens, involved the talented performance theatre and special effects company, erth, a performance chorus trained by David from Canberra Youth Theatre and a team of contemporary dancers, in addition to the cast of singers drawn from national and state opera companies. In June 1999, David directed Stopera's production, The Cook, the Fox and the Bride, a triple bill of works by Stravinsky and Rossini, presented in association with the National Gallery of Australia and its exhibition "From Russia with Love. Costumes from the Ballets Russes 1909-1933",

In July 1999, David directed and performed in Quintet, a production of five short plays by Australian writer Graham Henderson, presented at La Mama, Melbourne for a three week season, 

David has also just completed work on a large-scale multi-artform work, BHP Ribbons of Steel, specifically commissioned to mark the end of the BHP steelmaking in Newcastle, which was performed in a converted warehouse at the BHP site in August/September 1999.

In September, David returns to Canberra to direct CIA's production for the 1999 Season at the Street, Electra AD, a new version of the Greek myth written by Christos Tsiolkas. David is also directing a new musical version of Careful he might hear you, starring Toni Lamond, which premieres in Canberra in October 1999 for SUPA Productions.

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