James Franco

James Franco, with fans at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, will make his debut as a stage director this summer in New York. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

James Franco is currently starring in the Broadway production of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" through late July, but the ubiquitous celebrity has already lined up his next theater project. And in typically Fraconian fashion, the new production will overlap with his acting duties on Broadway.

Franco will direct an off-off-Broadway play with the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York that will begin performances next month, said a spokeswoman for the company. "The Long Shrift," by Robert Boswell, is scheduled to start its run July 7 and go through Aug. 23.

The play, whose cast includes Ally Sheedy, is about an accused rapist who is released from prison. The drama will run at the company's stage in the Greenwich Village neighborhood.

"The Long Shrift" will be part of the Rattlestick's 20th anniversary season. Last year, the New York company launched a Los Angeles branch that presents plays at stages across Southern California. Its most recent local production was the play "Everything You Touch" by Shelia Callaghan, which ran at the Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena.

The Rattlestick specializes in producing works by emerging and more established playwrights who have a certain aesthetic edge. Some of the notable writers it has produced include Adam Rapp, David Adjmi and Jon Fosse.

Franco has directed feature films in the past but this will be his first outing as a stage director. "Of Mice and Men," running on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre, is scheduled to conclude its run July 27.

The production, co-starring Christoper O'Dowd and Leighton Meester, recently recouped its initial Broadway investment of $3.8 million.