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Roundabout bulks up playwright initiatives

Theater also adds 'Burning Boy' to 2010-11 slate

The Roundabout Theater Company has taken steps to beef up its new work initiatives, including the announcement of commissions from 10 writers plus the appointment of scribe Theresa Rebeck as an associate artist.

Roundabout also has added a second play, David West Read’s “The Dream of the Burning Boy,” to the 2010-11 lineup of Roundabout Underground, the Gotham nonprofit’s series of smaller-scale productions of new work from early-career creatives.

Rebeck, whose comedy “The Understudy” was part of the Roundabout’s 2009-10 season, is the first playwright to be tapped as an associate artist, joining a group of helmers including Scott Elliott, Bill Irwin, Joe Mantello, Mark Brokaw and Kathleen Marshall. Associate artists can consult with the Roundabout in an advisory capacity as well as serve as go-to creatives for developing projects.

The scribes working on Roundabout commissions include Bekah Brunstetter (“Ooh-Rah!”), Julia Cho, Lydia Diamond, Diana Fithian, Nathan Louis Jackson (“Broke-ology”), Stephen Karam, Steven Levenson, Julie Marie Myatt and Robert Lopez (“Avenue Q”) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the latter two penning a musical together.

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Cho’s play “The Language Archive,” a recent winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, was a Roundabout commission, and will have a Brokaw-helmed production at the theater this season. Karam’s “Speech and Debate” launched Roundabout Under-ground in 2007, and his latest, Roundabout commission “Sons of the Prophet,” will bow at the Huntington this season.

The new Underground offering, “Dream of the Burning Boy,” will be helmed by Evan Cabnet, who directed a developmental reading of the show at the O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference this summer. The Roundabout cast, which included Reed Birney, has not yet been announced.

“Burning Boy,” which chronicles the fallout of a popular high schooler’s death, is lined up for a spring slot with exact dates to be nailed down. Next up for the Underground is a fall staging of Kim Rosenstock’s “Tigers Be Still.”

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