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Dirden Family Collection

Identifier: MSS 0086

Scope and Contents

The Dirden Family Collection, is composed primarily of materials collected by Deborah and Willie Dirden that document the theatrical activities on Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theater and filmography of Brandon Dirden, Jason Dirden, and Crystal Dickinson Dirden from 1995 to present. The collection contains autographed playbills, photographs, news clippings, a magazine, autographed theater tickets, and calendars.


  • 1995 - 2017
  • Majority of material found within 2000 - 2017

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Dirden Family Collection must be obtained from the African American Library at the Gregory School or the appropriate copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Inspired by their father and fellow actor Willie Dirden, brothers Brandon and Jason, Dirden, are accomplished actors and directors from Houston, Texas. The duo follows similar life and career paths including attending Booker T. Washington High School, Morehouse College and graduating with a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Illinois. Shared achievements include the role Levee in August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom in two separate theater productions. They also starred together in The First Breeze of Summer (2008) and Wilson’s The Piano Lesson (2012), both at Signature Theatre Company.

Brandon J. Dirden, born March 23, 1979, is an award-winning actor and director and is a member of The Actors Center. His acting debut began at age 12 in the Alley Theater production Joe Turner's Come and Gone. He debuted on Broadway (Roundabout Theatre Company) in Prelude to a Kiss, and is most known for his role as Martin Luther King Jr. in All the Way. Brandon has appeared regularly on and off Broadway in plays including regional appearances include Topdog/Underdog, Othello, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, Day of Absence, Enron, Jitney, The First Breeze of Summer, Trouble in Mind and Clybourne Park. In 2012, he was awarded an OBIE, A VIV [AUELCO], a Theatre World Award and was nominated for the Drama League and Lucille Lortell Awards for his role as Boy Willie in August's Wilson's The Piano Lesson. He made his directorial debut in September 2015, directing August Wilson's Seven Guitars at Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey. He has guest starred on the television series the Good Wife, The Big C, Public Morals and the Americans. In 2016, he joined Baz Luhrmann's new Netflix series The Get Down. He married Crystal Dickinson in 2006; they reside in New Jersey with their son Chase Ari Dirden.

Jason Dirden born August 23, 1980, is an actor known for roles on television series House of Payne (2006), Greenleaf (2016) and a voice over on Grand Theft Auto V (2013). After attending Morehouse College University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he relocated to New York, appearing in the Broadway plays A Raisin in the Sun (2014) and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences (2010), and Skeleton Crew at the Atlantic Theater Company. Off Broadway and regional play appearances include Seven Guitars, Every Tongue Confess, and Stickfly.

Crystal Dickinson (Brandon) Dirden, a New Jersey native, appeared in Broadway plays You Can't Take It With You and Clybourne Park in which she received the 2012 Theater World Award. She appeared in the off Broadway play Broke-ology. Television and movies appearances include, Origins (2014), This is Where I leave You (2014), Collateral Beauty (2016). Her television appearances include High Maintenance (2016), Feed the Beast (2016), The Good Wife (2015), and House of Payne (2008). In 2008, she directed A Song for Coretta at Seven Stages Theater. Crystal received a master of fine arts from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.


.5 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



The Dirden family collection is organized into three series which are arranged by subject and material type. Items were organized by subject by the donor at donation. Photographs were assigned a photo identification number.

Series 1: Printed Materials

Series 2: Photographs

Series 3: Correspondence

Processing Information

Processed by: Sheena Wilson, November 2017

MSS 0086 Dirden Family Collection
An Inventory of Records at the African American Library at the Gregory School.
Additions To Incorporate
Sheena Wilson
November 1, 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Gregory School Repository


The African American Library at the Gregory School
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
Houston Metropolitan Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002