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Resources for Theatre/Dance

Modern Dance Tragedy and Comedy Crimes of the Heart

Research in theater and dance can be important for production, criticism, or history and might involve finding reviews of a performance, criticism of a text of a play or a choreograper's work, or information on a historic period in which a production is set. This guide to resources for theater and dance lists some key research tools, but is far from complete; please don't hesitate to ask a librarian for other suggestions.

Table of Contents:

Indexes and Databases
For more database suggestions, see the library's Databases by Subject guides for Theatre and Dance.
  • Academic Search Premier,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=aph

    The world's largest academic multi-disciplinary database, Academic Search Premier indexes nearly 8,050 publications and provides full text for nearly 4,600, including more than 3,500 peer-reviewed journals. Coverage also includes many newspapers and popular magazines and spans virtually every area of academic study since 1975. Updated daily. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM). View our Academic Search Premier tutorial.
  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index (Web of Knowledge)

    A multidisciplinary index covering the journal literature of the arts and humanities. This index fully covers 1,144 of the world's leading arts and humanities journals, and also includes some individually selected, relevant items from over 6,800 major science and social science journals. Some of the disciplines covered include archaeology, linguistics, art, literature, music, philosophy, dance, history, religion and theater.

    Full-text backfiles to over 350 scholarly journals from more than 25 academic disciplines published between the 19th and 21st centuries in the JSTOR Arts & Sciences I, Arts & Sciences II, and Language & Literature collections. JSTOR provides complete journal backruns from the date of initial publication up to a "moving wall" of 3 to 5 years before the present year. To limit your search to full text articles, make sure that the option to "include links to external content" is turned off.
  • MLA International Bibliography,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=mzh

    The major research resource for information on English literature, foreign languages and linguistics. Includes references to scholarly articles, books, book chapters, book reviews, and dissertations; coverage dates back to the 1920's.
  • Project MUSE

    Project MUSE provides full text electronic access to over 100 scholarly journals in humanities, the social sciences, and mathematics. Topics covered include literary theory; classics; history and cultural studies; philosophy; film, theatre and the performing arts; political science and mathematics.
  • The following print bibliographies are also useful:
    • Modern Drama: Scholarship and Criticism: An International Bibliography
      A thorough bibliography of critical articles and commentary on world theatre. For updates beyond 1990, consult the June issues of the journal Modern Drama, which include an annual listing of drama scholarship.
      • Location(s): Ref PN 1851 .C37
    • European Drama Criticism 1900-1975
      References to books and articles which contain criticism of plays by prominent European playwrights. Clear format; arranged by author with subheadings for titles of plays.
      • Location(s): Ref PN 1729.5 .P35 1977
    • Dramatic Criticism Index: A Bibliography of Commentaries on Playwrights from Ibsen to the Avant-garde
      Lists criticism of plays arranged by author, with subheadings for individual plays. Sources vary from scholarly analysis to substantial reviews.
      • Location(s): REF PN 1707 .B74 1972
    • Dancers and Choreographers: A Selected Bibliography
      Lists English-language publications on ballet and modern dance, almost all published in the 20th century. Emphasis is on scholarly publications.
      • Location(s): Ref GV 1785.8 .G48 1995
Reference Works
  • Theatre: General
    • Brewer's Theatre: A Phrase and Fable Dictionary
      A dictionary of the theatre, including people, plays, theatres, terminology of the craft, and otherwise hard-to-identify topics. The style of the entries is lively and informative, and there are helpful cross references.
      • Location(s): Ref PN 2035 .B74 1994b
    • Cambridge Guide to Theatre
      Covers playwrights, theatres, and plays, and is noteable for lengthy and detailed surveys of theatre by country and region.
      • Location(s): Ref PN 2035 .C27 1995
    • Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama
      • Location(s): Ref PN1861 .C65 2007
    • Oxford Companion to the Theatre
      Look here to check facts quickly. Brief articles give information on authors, theatrical terms and time periods.
      • Location(s): Ref PN 2035 .H3 1983
    • World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre
      An authoritative and up-to-date guide to theater, with a global perspective.
      • Location(s): Ref PN 1861 .W67 1994 (6 vols.)
  • Costuming
    • Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion
      An interdisciplinary compendium of information about fashion, with articles on topics as specific as "zoot suit" to as wide-ranging as "globalization." Also includes articles on such topics as footbinding, sweatshops, and body piercing.
      • Location(s): Ref GT 507 .E53 2005 (3 vols.)
    • History of Fashion
      Offers color plates taken from artworks of various periods to illustrate contemporary dress in historical periods. Useful both for finding out about fashions and for getting a sense of how people of a given period represented themselves.
      • Location(s): Ref GT 510 .B53 1975b
  • Bio-Critical Sources
    • Contemporary Dramatists
      Provides brief biographical information on playwrights and an analysis and discussion of their works.
      • Location(s): Ref PR 373 .C57 1999
    • British Playwrights: A Research and Production Sourcebook
      These two volumes include essays on the life, work, and critical responses received by nearly seventy British playwrights. Each essay is followed by a thorough bibliography of works, criticism, and reviews. An excellent starting point for research for critical or performance purposes.
      • Location(s): Ref PR 736 .B7 1996 and Ref PR 736 .B75 1996
    • American Playwrights, 1880-1945: A Research and Production Sourcebook
      Covers the lives, works, critical reception, and impact of forty American playwrights, some prominent and others little known, including many women and minority writers who have not received much critical attention. Each entry is followed by a detailed bibliography of the playwright's works, criticism, and reviews.
      • Location(s): Ref PS 351 .A45 1995
    • American Playwrights Since 1945: A Guide to Scholarship, Criticism and Performance
      About forty playwrights, from Albee to Zindel, who achieved prominence after 1945 are profiled. Entries contain an assessment of the playwright's reputation, bibliography, production histories, analyses of individual plays and bibliography of criticism.
      • Location(s): Ref PS 350 .A44 1989
    • Great Stage Directors: 100 Distinguished Careers of the Theater
      Provides alphabetically arranged biographical/critical sketches of directors from all periods and countries, though emphasizing England and America.
      • Location(s): Ref PN2205 .L44 1994
    • Theatrical Designers: An International Biographical Dictionary
      Biographical/critical sketches of designers from all periods and places. At the back there is a chronology and list of designers by country, as well as a selected bibliography. Each entry includes a list of productions and suggestions for further reading.
      • Location(s): Ref PN 2096 .A1 T48 1992
  • Varieties of Theatre
    • Encyclopedia of Musical Theatre
      Brief articles on people, productions, composers, etc.
      • Location(s): Ref ML 102 .M88 G3 2001
  • Theatre History
    • Oxford Companion to American Theatre
      • Location(s): Ref PN2220.B6 2004
    • Chronology of American Musical Theater
      By providing details of productions in chronological order, this set provides a comprehensive picture of this popular art form. Though it focuses on 1850 to the present, selected significant productions from 1750 to 1850 are also included.
      • Location(s): Ref ML 1711.8 .N3 N67 2002 (3 vols)
    • American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama
      A chronicle of productions between 1869 and 1969, show by show, including plot, players, and important statistics.
      • Location(s): Ref PN 2256 .B6 (3 vols.)
    • African American Theatre Directory, 1816-1960
      • Location(s): Ref PN 2270 .A35 P48 1997
    • Jacobean and Caroline Stage: Dramatic Companies and Players
      Contains exhaustive documentary evidence about the companies, players, plays, playwrights, and productions in London from the accession of James I to the closing of the theatres in 1642.
      • Location(s): PN 2592 .B4 (7 vols.)
    • Early English Stages, 1300-1660
      Covers theatrical productions through centuries of change, organized thematically and comparatively.
      • Location(s): PN 2587 .W53 (3 vols.)
    • Mediaeval Stage
      Covers the Elizabethan court and its spectacles, the role of companies in London, and detailed histories of companies and theatres as well as information on surviving plays. Though the scholarship is dated, the material still has value.
      • Location(s): PN 2589 .C4 (2 vols.)
  • Locating Plays in Collections
    • Ottemiller's Index to Plays in Collections: An Author and Title Index to Plays Appearing in Collections Published Between 1900 and 1985
      An index for locating plays published in collections, anthologies, and the Best Plays series.
      • Location(s): Ref PN 1655 .O88 2011
  • Dance: General
    • International Encyclopedia of Dance
      Covers dance of all kinds, including folk, modern, and ballet. More than twenty years in the making, this reference work is the most complete in the field. Includes biographical information on dancers and choreographers, articles covering styles of dance, country studies, information on companies, organizations, works, and definitions of dance terms.
      • Location(s): Ref GV 1585 .I586 1998 (6 vols.)
  • Bio-Critical Sources
    • Biographical Dictionary of Dance
      Extensive collection of biographical sketches of both famous and lesser known choreographers and dancers in all divisions of dance, from ballet to ballroom.
      • Location(s): Ref GV 1785 .A1 C58 1982
Browsing for Books
Books are shelved in general subject categories using the Library of Congress classification system. You may want to supplement your use of the catalog with browsing shelf areas for your topic. Below is a brief listing of some of the subject locations in the field of theatre/dance.
  • GV 1580-1799.3 Dance
  • MT Production of Opera. Music in Theaters
  • N Visual Arts
  • NA Architecture
  • NC Drawing. Design. Illustration.
  • ND Painting
  • NK Decorative Arts
    • 4700-4890 Costuming
  • P Literature (Plays by individual writers are shelved under national and period categories)
  • PN 1560-1590 Performing Arts.
    • 1600-1660 Drama (General)
    • 1660-1693 Dramatic composition
    • 1865-1999 Special types of drama (including vaudeville, puppets, mime, ballet, radio/television, film, etc.)
    • 2000-3307 Dramatic Representation. The Theater (including stage management, theatre history)
    • 6110-6120 Drama collections
  • T Technology


In addition to the journals listed below, some theatre journals are available in full text in Project MUSE.

Print journals are housed in the periodicals collection on the first floor of the library.
  • American Theatre
  • Contact Quarterly
  • Dance Magazine
  • Journal of Dance Education
  • Modern Drama
  • TDR
  • Theater
  • Theatre Survey
  • Theatre Topics
  • Theatre: General Resources
    • Global Performing Arts Database

      Based at Cornell, this database contains digital performance materials, including costumes, sets, directors, and more, is part of an international consortium founded to develope and preserve digital records of the performing arts worldwide.
    • Performing Arts Links

      Information is organized by topic and by country.
    • Production Research

      An online guide to resources for production research, from the Collins Library at Puget Sound University.
  • Theatre History
    • Performing Arts in America, 1875-1923

      Includes over 16,000 primary documents and original resources. From the New York Public Library.
    • Theatre History Sites on the WWW

      Contains information on classical, medieval, Elizabethan, Later English, and American Theatre.
    • Theatre History on the Web

      Links to various styles of theatre, organizations, museums, online books and journals, film resources, and more.

      A commercial site that offers nicely-organized links by period and region as well as a selection of public-domain playscripts.
  • Costumes and Design
    • Milieux: The Costume Site

      Links to museums, historical information, instructions on how to make costumes, and more.
  • Dance
    • Voice of Dance

      Includes news articles, multimedia, interviews with top dance professionals, and more.
Photo Credits (L to R)

Modern Dance -
Tragedy and Comedy -
Crimes of the Heart -

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