Company opening 65-seat black box theater

The Roundabout Theater Company will open a 65-seat black box theater in October, devoting the space to the development of new legit work and talent.

Inaugural production will be Stephen Karam’s “Speech & Debate,” helmed by Jason Moore (“Avenue Q”).

Black box, located underneath the Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theater, brings the number of Roundabout stages to four, with a fifth on the way. In addition to the Off Broadway Pels and the new space, the org has two Broadway venues, the American Airlines Theater and Studio 54. The Gotham nonprofit also is in negotiations for a third Rialto space, a new Henry Miller’s Theater that preserves the facade of the old one, to open fall 2008.

The black box venue will be home to the theater’s new Roundabout Underground initiative, a showcase for new work curated by Robyn Goodman, artistic consultant to the Roundabout and a commercial producer (“Avenue Q,” “Altar Boyz”).

Roundabout Underground has no concreteseason schedule, but likely will produce at least two shows a year in the new venue. Ticket price point is kept low at $20.

Written by the co-author of “columbinus,” which had a run at New York Theater Workshop last year, “Speech & Debate” follows three Oregon teens who form a school debate team after learning they are linked by a community sex scandal. Production begins previews Oct. 5 for an Oct. 29 opening.

Also on Roundabout stages this fall: a revival of Terrence McNally’s “The Ritz” at Studio 54, a revival of George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” at the American Airlines, and the American preem of J.T. Rogers’ “The Overwhelming” at the Laura Pels.

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