Grove City Native Talks Playwriting

By: Gil Kaan,

GROVE CITY — A Grove City native and playwright is eagerly awaiting the debut of his latest work.

“It’s exciting and scary,” Greg Burdick said by phone from his home in Lakeland, Fla.

“Accommodation,” written by Burdick and directed by Brandon Baer and Garrett Baer, will preview on June 15 through 17 at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles; it officially opens on June 18 and runs through July 9.

The play is a drama that centers on teacher Celeste Dawkins, who is pushed to the brink when she’s accused of not honoring the requirements to accommodate a student’s additional learning needs.

“We see her on her worst day,” he said of Dawkins.

The idea for the story came to him after a challenging school year; he teaches theater at Lake Gibson High School, marking his 30th year in education.

There are lots of moving parts with the story being told from multiple viewpoints, and advocating for your children comes into play.

“I hope that it opens up a conversation about a lot of the challenges of public eduction,” Burdick said.

“Accommodation” took him five years to write, and it’s presented by producer Christopher Sepulveda and 3Gems Productions. Sandy Bainum is the executive producer who also plays the role of Dawkins.

Burdick, born in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Grove City High School and Slippery Rock University, knew from an early age he wanted to become an educator.

His mother Sue was a teacher, and his father Robert taught at SRU, where Burdick discovered the theater program.

He met his-now wife Toi while working a summer job, later inviting her to campus for what was a fake play audition.

“I proposed to her on the Miller Auditorium stage,” Burdick said, adding that they have one daugher, Miranda, and love the beach and theme parks.

He was also part of “Fiddler on the Roof” at Grove City High School, working with Shirley Berkey and David Barron, and looks up to the late Barry Wood, who taught in the Peters Township (Pa.) School District, where Burdick lived before moving to Grove City.

Burdick has been writing professionally for about seven years and has been able to build up the theater program at Lake Gibson High School.

“But I’ve been writing my entire life,” he said.

While teaching, he tries to impart what he’s learned over the years: the importance of being on time, responsibility, strong work ethic and being proud of what you create.

Some of Burdick’s other plays have been produced, and he loves the collaboration among everyone involved.

He was surprised when he was contacted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic about bringing “Accommodation” to the stage, and he’s very happy with how it turned out after multiple meetings and revisions.

“When a playwright gets a ‘yes,’ it’s like seeing a unicorn,” he said.

There’s a stellar team behind the play — one of the sound designers is a Tony Award nominee, and members of the Los Angeles-based cast have appeared in “Veep,” “This Is Us,” “Succession,” “American Rust” and Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio.”

Burdick is in Los Angeles for final rehearsals and the premiere; he’ll be joined on June 18 by his wife and daughter.

“I don’t think I’m gonna be able to top this,” he said.

He hopes that all of this momentum will help jumpstart his creative juices to get working on something new.

“I’ve got a lot of ideas,” he said.

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