He’s The First
by Phillip Gregory Burke

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A random encounter at a library leaves two curious strangers from different academic worlds and backgrounds the chance to explore their similarities or judge their books by their covers.




American born and classically trained in The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Phillip Gregory Burke’s writing chronicles the sociology of the African Diaspora and illuminates the intricate intersections of Blackness and queerness throughout history. A proud descendant of that Diaspora with Creole, Gullah, Haitian and West African heritages, he is curating cycles of plays connected to a singular universe centering their narratives. Plays: I’m The First (Exquisite Corpse Company), He’s The First (All Arts/PBS, Semi-finalist Obsidian Theater Festival)The Suncatchers of Sahel: An Ancestral Tale Told to Today’s Griot, Part I, (Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow Finalist, Princess Grace Award in Playwriting Fellowship Semi-finalist), The Simaraboo Two (LPC), The Suncatchers of Sahel: An Ancestral Tale Told To Today’s Griot, Part II (The Civilians R&D Group, Semi-finalist The Bay Area Playwrights Festival), A Holy Her (The Parsnip Ship, Semi-finalist Playwrights Realm Writing Fellowship Award). Education: MA Classical & Contemporary Text: Acting-The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; BFA Drama & BS Sociology-Syracuse University (recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Community Service & Civic Engagement.) Shakespeare’s Globe Education, The Alexander Gibson School of Opera. Memberships & Residencies: Actors’ Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, The New York SAG-AFTRA Film Society, The Latinx Playwrights Circle, Space Jam Roundabout Theatre Company. His hometown of Auburn, NY, inducted him into the Auburn Alumni Hall of Distinction in May 2023. His entire body of work is dedicated to the memory of the legendary Miss Dame Sally Ann Walker Jones. Asè.



1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?


I wrote an epic Disney crossover starring Aladdin when I was 9 and my love of crossovers, sequels, prequels, and spin-offs were born!


2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?


I wanted to write a romantic comedy about Blackness and queerness for the teen that I could not be for the teens from those demographics who I have witnessed are able to live out and openly in free in the world today.


3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?




4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?


My African Diaspora ancestors.
August Wilson
Toni Morrison
My Little Pony
Care Bears
The Golden Age of Disney 1989-1998


5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?


I play the bassoon and clarinet.


6. What are some of your favorite plays?


Choir Boy, Edward II, Skeleton Crew, Henry IV Part II.


7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?


I will be having a reading of I’m The First, the second play in THE FIRST cycle in June 2023. My hometown of Auburn, NY, where my family has lived since December 24, 1858, inducted me into The Auburn Alumni Hall of Distinction in May 2023 honoring my career as an actor and playwright. Follow me on Instagram @phillipgburke for the latest career updates!