Billy Ray Brewton
An avid writer since the age of five, there is really nothing Billy Ray hasn’t pursued. He wrote poetry and tongue-twisters for fun as a kid; he shocked his third grade teacher with his short story series “Uncle Joe, Malcolm & Zeke” which she called, “The most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen a third grader write.” And, of course, he wrote elaborate scripts for his He-Man and Ghostbusters action figures. It wasn’t until 2000 that he started pursuing writing in a more professional manner, starting to write syndicated film critiques for various websites (Popkorn Junkies, Movies Made Me, etc.) and blogs. His personal blog, Simply Cinema, ceased publication in 2006.
In 2005, Billy Ray graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and was looking for something artistic with which to occupy his time. With that, in November of 2006, Theatre Downtown was born — a cutting-edge theatre company that specialized in original and contemporary works and the implementation of multimedia technology into steadfast classics. During his tenure as president and artistic director of Theatre Downtown (which he also founded) he wrote/directed six original plays and musicals (Must Come Down; Dragula: The Musical; Skanks in a One Horse Town; After School Special; We Three Queens; The 13th Friday: Ready, Set, Die!) and adapted three works (Night of the Living Dead, Titus Andronicus, Marriage-a-la-Mode) for the stage. He also served as director for shows as varied as The Normal Heart and Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes to Glengarry Glen Ross and Psycho Beach Party. His production of The Crucible (2009) took home two awards at the 2009 AACTFest theatre competition; he also oversaw the creation of the Hobo Awards, Theatre Downtown’s annual awards show dedicated to celebrating the performers and artists who grace Theatre Downtown’s stages. Billy Ray left Theatre Downtown in 2013 to move to Los Angeles but the company still exists as a 501©3 organization and serves Birmingham audiences with the finest contemporary and classic theatre in the Southeast. He also founded Glass Half Theatre in 2013.
As a film buff since an early age, it seems a foregone conclusion that Billy Ray would plunge into the local film-making community as well. Partnering with local film-makers Drew Brown and Bert R. Payne, he wrote and directed numerous short films over the years, including several for the prestigious Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival Scramble competition. Short films such as Shout Back the Noise of Life, Darkness on the Edge of Town and Waiting Room played at film festivals across the country; his web-series, The Toilet Angel Adventures, delighted audiences for several episodes; and other works include: The Big Empty, As A Fever, Dead Ahead, The Whore That Wouldn’t Die!, Scatter Brain, Pickle! and Yeah! He is currently developing his first feature project, the horror film Mr. Henry. Billy Ray was also a featured actor in the upcoming fantasy/adventure film, Dyke Warriors from Planet Hell, currently in post production.
Billy Ray has, since 2009, served as the programmer for Birmingham Shout, Alabama’s only LGBTQ film festival (a sister festival of the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival). He is a member of Ugly Baby Improv, which has performed as the Del Close Marathon in New York City and the Spontaneous Combustion festival in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a former member of ETC Improv, also based in Birmingham.
One of Billy Ray’s original musicals, Skanks in a One Horse Town, was the subject of a feature-length documentary entitled Skanks which premiered at the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival and is currently making the rounds on the festival circuit.