Playwright Shirley Graham Du Bois and Director Steve H. Broadnax III, who will lead a reading of one of her plays. (Photos: Courtesy of Polk and Co)

Roundabout Theatre Company is launching a new program aimed at diversifying the American theater canon. 

Roundabout’s program, called the Refocus Project, will include a weekly online play reading series, a resource library and a push by the theater company to see these plays produced across the country. The first year of the project will focus on five Black playwrights: Angelina Weld Grimké, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Childress and Samm-Art Williams. 

The second year will focus on Latinx playwrights. 

Upcoming play readings, presented in association with Black Theatre United, include an April 23 reading of “Rachel” by Grimké and directed by Miranda Haymon; an April 30 reading of “Home” by Williams and directed by Kenny Leon; a May 7 reading of “I Gotta Home” by Du Bois and directed by Steve H. Broadnax III; a May 14 reading of “Spunk” by Hurston and directed by Lili-Anne Brown and a May 21 reading of “Wine in the Wilderness” by Childress and directed by Dominique Rider.

The play readings will be available online and free of charge. 

The theater company’s 2021 Broadway season is scheduled to begin this fall with Childress’s “Trouble in Mind,” directed by Charles Randolph-Wright.

The resource library, available April 23, is open to the public as well as industry professionals, with the goal of assisting with future productions of the plays. In addition to the library, the Refocus Project will include a “Literary Ancestry” essay series — which includes personal essays by Black playwrights about others who have influenced their work — as well as panel discussions with the artists. 

Roundabout has also partnered with the New York Public Library to expand resources and engagement.