Bille BrownBille Browni(A48410 works by)
William Gerard Brown)
Born:Established:11 Jan 1952Biloela,Biloela area,Biloela - Moura - Baralaba area,Central West Queensland,Queensland,;Died:Ceased:13 Jan 2013Chermside,Chermside - Stafford area,Brisbane - North East,Brisbane,Queensland,
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An actor, dramatist and director with a career spanning theatre, film, and television, Bille Brown took part in university drama productions and also acted with the Brisbane Repertory Theatre Society while a student at The University of Queensland (1969-1971). He made his professional debut with the Queensland Theatre Company in 1971. Although he had contributed some material for a university revue in 1972, it was not until 1973 that Brown undertook his first major writing commission - a collaboration with fellow actor Geoffrey Rush on the musical Ship of Fools. Telling the story of the sinking of the Titanic, this zany musical was staged by the Brisbane Grammar School. The following year he was given a commission by the Queensland Theatre Company to write Springle, the first of a trilogy which toured Queensland over the next decade under the auspices of the company's Theatre-in-education unit. The other two plays were Tuff (1976) and Prunes (1977).
In 1976 Brown became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (1978-82) and two years later was asked to write a festival piece for their Christmas season. In this respect Brown was the first actor from the Royal Shakespeare Company commissioned to write and perform in their own work. The production, a pantomime called The Swan Down Gloves, opened the Barbican Centre in London with a royal command performance in 1981.The music was by Englishman, Nigel Hess. The pantomime remained in the company's repertoire between 1980 and 1982, and was produced in Stratford-Upon-Avon, London and New York. Between 1978 and 1982 Brown also wrote a six part series of plays called The Peculiar Treasure (examining aspects of Jewish history) and God's Idiots (based on several Iranian fairy tales). 1982 also saw him take up an artist in residence position at the State University of New York. In 1983 he completed another play, Playfolk, the writing of which was supported by Warner Brothers Communications and the John Golden Foundation. It was later staged in Pennsylvania as Colorados (Shaw Festival, 1986) and by the Stratford Royal Shakespeare Company as Redskins (1996). In New York City, Brown made his Broadway debut as a playwright with A Christmas Carol in 1984 and as an actor in Michael Frayn's Wild Honey in 1986. Another play written around the same period, Unreal was produced by the South Australian Theatre Company in 1985 with Geoffrey Rush directing. That same year his adaptation of A Christmas Carol was staged in London, on Broadway and at various galas with luminaries such as F. Murray Abraham, Helen Hayes and Derek Jacobi in the cast. In 1988 Brown wrote the stage show and documentary film The Light Fantastik for the Corning Glass Works as a means of introducing fibre optics in the US. Another play, Séance, was staged around the same period.
Brown decided to return to live permanently in Australia in 1996. On visits to Brisbane he had performed in open-air Shakespeare - Henry V in 1984, Benedick in 1985, and Falstaff in 1987. Since the late 1980s he has written such plays as The Country Party and Bill and Mary (2002), about Sir William Dobell and Dame Mary Gilmore. He has also undertaken numerous theatre, film and television acting roles. Significant theatre productions include The Marriage of Figaro (which opened the new Optus Playhouse in Brisbane in September 1998), and his role as Oscar Wilde in the Belvoir St production of David Hare's The Judas Kiss (1999). The same year he accepted an offer to be Adjunct Professor in the School of English, Media Studies and Art History at The University of Queensland and has given workshops and master classes for drama students.
In June 2002 increased funding for the Queensland Theatre Company's operational costs created 2.5 new jobs and assisted with the company's relocation to its new home at 78 Montague Road, South Brisbane. The new premises includes a rehearsal and performance studio named in honour of Bille Brown, along with archives and a library.
In 2009, Bille Brown was honoured at the Helpmann Awards, receiving the Best Actor in a Musical Award for his role in Monty Python's 'Spamalot'.