New York’s Roundabout Theater Company, one of the largest nonprofit theater organizations in the country, will expand its line of programming dedicated to new works by emerging artists, Roundabout Underground, by upping the number of shows produced under its banner from one to two.
At the same time, the company seems to be solidifying a pipeline that connects young creatives introduced via the Underground initiative to the Roundabout’s larger stages. To its 2016-17 season, the company has added Off Broadway productions of new plays by Steven Levenson and Meghan Kennedy, two writers whose work has previously been produced as part of Roundabout Underground.
The Underground initiative launched auspiciously in 2007 with “Speech and Debate,” the first play by Stephen Karam. After his debut with the Roundabout, Karam’s second play, “Sons of the Prophet,” was nominated for a Putlizer, and his much-lauded latest, “The Humans,” will transfer to Broadway in January. (Both “Prophet” and “Humans” were staged at the Roundabout’s Off Broadway venue, the Laura Pels Theater.)
Lined up for the Pels in January 2017, the latest by Levenson, “If I Forget,” centers on a Jewish studies professor and his increasingly tense relationship with his father. The writer’s play “The Secret Language of Trees” premiered at Roundbout Underground, and his play “The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin” played the Pels in 2013.
The new one from Kennedy, called “Napoli, Brooklyn,” will start performances at the Pels in May 2017. The play follows the women of an Italian family in 1960s Brooklyn. Kennedy’s “Too Much, Too Much, Too Many” premiered at Roundabout Underground in 2013.
Of the two Underground productions planned for 2016-17, only one has been set: Jenny Rachel Weiner’s “Kingdom Come,” about a burgeoning relationship between two women pretending to be something they’re not via online dating. The second Underground production of the season remains to be set.