Theater Arts Research Guide, University of Oregon Libraries


This guide lists basic resources for theater research.
For further assistance, contact Ed Teague, Theater Arts subject librarian.

GoogleLibrary Website | Library catalogs  | Dictionaries, encyclopedias  | Databases  | Plays   | Images, Video, Audio | Theses, Dissertations


The UO Libraries Website provides access to information housed within the libraries as well as resources that exist throughout the world in digital media.   In addition to access to databases, the library website provides online guides to assist in finding and using information, contact information for library specialists, and information about library spaces, technologies, and service hours.


A database that accesses library holdings (predominately books) is usually called a catalog. The UO Library catalog comes in two flavors:

  • UO Local Catalog accesses books and other cataloged materials owned by the UO Libraries
  • UO WorldCat. This database includes library holdings from around the world including UO, whose holdings appear first in searches.  Note: The UO WorldCat database also includes articles and other kinds of materials. Searches can be restricted to type of material, date, scope, etc.  One can also narrow by UO Library, Summit Libraries, or Worldwide Libraries.

Consult the New additions to the UO Libraries to find out monthly what the library has recently acquired.


Dictionaries and encyclopedias provide information that ranges from basic facts and figures to scholarly articles. These reference works can assist in refining the scope of a paper or topic and often have bibliographies.

  • Cambridge Collections Online. - Includes full-text searchable versions of monographs, such as the Cambridge Companion to African-American Theater, Cambridge Companion to Modern American Women Playwrights, Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage, Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller, etc.
  • Oxford Reference Online. -  Includes full-text, searchable versions of the Oxford Companion to American Theatre, Oxford Dictionary of Dance, International Encyclopedia of Dance, Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, Oxford Companion to Music, Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera, Who's Who in Opera, Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance, Concise Oxford Companion to Theatre.  
  • Oxford Art Online includes full-text of Grove Art Online, Encyclopedia of Western Art, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, and the Oxford Companion to Western Art.
  • Oxford English Dictionary.  Useful resource for dramaturgy.
  • Literature Resource Center.  Information about authors and literary works. Includes full-text of Contemporary Authors, Dictionary of Literary Biography, Contemporary Literary Criticism, Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, as well as Drama Criticism, Poetry Criticism, Shakespearean Criticism, and other titles.


Use an index to find articles in journals, newspapers, or magazines. Most are available as databases. Once you have retrieved an article citation, you'll need to verify that UO has the journal that holds the article if it is not obviously identified as full-text.  Clicking on the  FindText which appears with citations helps you locate an item.  Multi-database searching is a feature that can be employed.  UO WorldCat also includes article citations.

  • Academic Search Premier - An interdisciplinary journal index. Full-text of over 1,250 journals is available from 1990 to the present. In addition, indexing and abstracts are provided for nearly 3,000 journals from 1984 to the present.
  • American Periodical Series - consists of digitized reproductions of more than 1,100 periodicals that first began publishing between 1740 and 1900. Includes special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children's and women's magazines, and many other historically significant periodicals.
  • International Bibliography of Theatre. REF KNIGHT Z 6935 .I53 1983-1999. - Annual  index for theatrical journals, international in coverage. It also covers most drama journals, and includes references to books.
  • JSTOR.  Includes full-text of 140 performing arts journals among hundreds of other titles.
  • MLA International Bibliography - Indexes articles about drama and theater. Does not cover technical theater topics, nor does it include reviews of productions.
  • New York Times (1851-2004). Provides the full text, with images, of articles published in the New York Times from its first issue in 1851, up to three years prior to the current year. Searchable by keyword, subject, author, and article title. Includes advertisements.
  • Web of Knowledge. The most comprehensive coverage of humanities, science, and social science articles, 1965-present. The database may be searched by keyword or author, or for works that cite a specified author or paper.


Plays are listed in the Library catalog by author, title, and subject.  Plays are sometimes compiled into anthologies.  Catalog searches for plays can be narrowed by introducing terms such as 'one-act', 'monologues', etc.


  • Internet Broadway Database (IBDB). Provides records of productions from the beginnings of New York theater until today.
  • Doolee (  Extensive database of modern playwrights and plays written in or translated into English since in 1956.  Includes c. 30,000 playwrights and 100,000 plays, with access points by author, title, and number of male & female roles.
  • Inter-Play: an On-line Index to Plays in Collections, Anthologies, and Periodicals. Contains more than 18,000 entries for plays searchable by author and/or title. Cites PSU call numbers of sources for the texts of plays.
  • See also Publishers of Plays below

Full-Text (E-Books)

  • American Variety Stage. Multimedia anthology from Library of Congress holdings illustrating popular entertainment, 1870-1920.  Includes scripts, playbills, motion pictures, recordings.
  • Black Drama. Contains approximately 1,500 plays by 233 playwrights, together with detailed information on productions, theaters, companies, etc. 
  • Early English Books Online (EEBO).  Contains digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700
  • Eighteenth Century Collection Online (ECCO).  Accesses the digital images of every page of books published during the 18th Century in the United Kingdom.  
  • Nineteenth Century Collections Online: British Theatre, Music and Literature. Features a wide range of primary sources related to the arts in the Victorian era, from playbills and scripts to operas and complete scores.  Sourced from the British Library and other renowned institutions.
  • Project Gutenberg.  Over 42,000 full-text books available for free.  Thousands of full-text plays, in public domain (published prior to 1923). 

Criticism, Reviews

  • See Articles section above
  • New York Theatre Critics' Reviews. 1940-1996.  KNIGHT REF PN1601.N4.   Theatre Reviews is a complete guide and record of the New York stage, reprinted from New York Sun, New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, New York Post, New York Daily News, New York World Telegram (1940-); reprinted from the New York Daily News, Wall Street Journal, Time, New York Post, Women's Wear Daily, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek.
  • Chronicling America (Library of Congress).  Ongoing project to digitize US newspapers, 1836-1922, with free access.
  • The New York Times and other sources for reviews are online; see this guide for more information.

Production Histories

  • Internet Broadway Database (IBDB). 
  • American Theatre Companies, 1749-1887. KNIGHT REF PN2237 .A43 1986
  • American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930. KNIGHT REF PN2256 .A44 1987
  • American Theatre Companies, 1931-1986. KNIGHT REF PN2266 .A54 1989
    Provides history of the company and includes listing of productions for each season. Each entry has a bibliography for further research. Use the title index to determine which companies performed particular plays.
  • British Playwrights, 1880-1956: A Research and Production Sourcebook. REF PR736 .B7 1996
  • British Playwrights, 1956-1995: A Research and Production Sourcebook. REF PR736 .B75 1996
    Lists first production, runs of significant productions, and important revivals. Summarizes published criticism of the productions. Also includes biographical information, assessment of the playwright's career, archival sources, and bibliographies of primary and secondary sources.
  • The London stage, 1660-1800; a calendar of plays, entertainments & afterpieces, together with casts, box-receipts and contemporary comment. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1960-68.  KNIGHT REF PN2592 L65.  Basic reference  for 18th century theater compiled from newspapers, playbills, and contemporary theatrical diaries.

Publishers of Plays




  • BBC Shakespeare Plays.  Streaming video version of 37 plays produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
  • Dance in Video.  Includes over 700 streaming videos of dance productions of great variety.
  • YouTube.  Includes parts of performances of all kinds
  • This guide, Finding Videos,  helps you identify the library's DVD and streaming video collections.




Page author:  Ed Teague,  Updated: Oct. 1,2013


Created by ehteague on Apr 15, 2013 Last updated Jun 24, 2014