A Mercy At Midnight Castle
by Phillip Gregory Burke

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Phillip Gregory



During a tumultuous time of peril in a young nation’s history, concerned civilians decide to heal themselves and others, on their own terms.




Phillip Gregory Burke is a Black American of Haitian, Creole and Gullah-Geechee descent, artivist, actor and playwright. Plays: The Suncatchers of Sahel: Part I, (Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow finalist, Princess Grace Award Playwriting Fellowship semi-finalist), The Suncatchers of Sahel: Part II (Semi-finalist: The Princess Grace Award Playwriting Fellowship, The Bay Area Playwrights Festival), The Simaraboo Two, A Holy Her (Playwrights Realm semi-finalist), He’s The First (Inaugural winner Improbable Fiction Award Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival, top 13 48th Annual Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival finalist, stream on All Arts/PBS), I’m The First! He is a co-founder of DIEZ and won the 2024 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Arts Fund, National Black Theatre SOUL Series Cohort, Summer Jam Inaugural Fellowship. Memberships: Dramatists Guild, AEA, SAG-AFTRA, Latinx Playwrights Circle. Residencies: Theatre 4the People, The Civilians R&D Group, Roundabout Theatre Company. MA: Classical and Contemporary Text, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. BFA: Drama, BS: Sociology –Syracuse University.




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

At 9 years old, my Great-Grandmother, Sally Ann Jones, handed me Crayola crayons, BIC pencils, fluorescent markers, a $0.70 CVS yellow notebook and told me to write what I want. So, I wrote my first play: a MASSIVE crossover event, starring Aladdin, other Disney characters – with, if I do say so myself, memorable scene-stealing appearances from My Little Ponies, X-Men, Super Mario Bros, Care Bears, Muppet Babies and Treasure Trolls – way before Marvel pulled an Angela Bassett and did the thing! Now, if you ask me secretly… that play IS canon! My love for crossovers, sequels, prequels and spin-offs began that day and these elements are present in my entire written work, where everything I write connects to a singular universe from antiquity to the present.


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

Writing works of historical fiction inspired by historical facts are my bread and butter. I’ve explored this previously, in classical and medieval worlds, but was curious what that would look like in a 19th century set play. Though much discourse is written about The Civil War, I didn’t want to contribute yet another voice to such a vocal topic. However, I was curious writing about what is considered the catalyst that caused that war, and it’s aftermath, which is not often written about. My ancestor, Harriet Tubman, was supposed to be at that event, but fell ill and I’ve frequently wondered how history and how my own family history could have been altered, if she attended John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry.


What are five words that describe who you are as a playwright?

Unapologetic, Bold, Epic, Poetic, Beguiling.


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

My holy quintet of inspiration from childhood to adolescence to adulthood is Care Bears, My Little Pony, Aaliyah, August Wilson and Toni Morrison. They are the ancestors from which my writing descends and are related in more ways than one may think! You can trust me to find the parallels, as their day one scholar!


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

I am relearning the clarinet, bassoon, flute and piccolo, for fun. I’m totally a woodwinds guy. I wanted to be a bassoonist in major orchestras across the globe, compose classical music and conduct, but acting was something I had the least experience in, so I pursued that professionally. However, the field has not alluded me. I am able to carry it with me. I often write plays with music that I also compose the music to and one of my pilots features classical music where I will play a conductor and an instrument. I’m looking forward to combining all my interests!


What are some of your favorite plays?

Choir Boy, Edward II, Skelton Crew, Henry IV Part II, Tamburlaine The Great Parts II&II.


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

I’m looking forward to finishing the latter half of the ten play cycle that A Mercy At Midnight Castle is part of. There are a few other items in the works that I’m not allowed to say yet but you can follow me on IG @PhillipGBurke to chronicle all my latest developments!

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