Theatre & Dance

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Theatre vs. Theater

Theatre  vs. Theater
In performing any kind of theatre research take into account that theatre may also be spelled theater--and in many databases searching one will not retrieve books and articles that use the other.
  • Run two searches.
  • Within the same parenthesis OR the two spellings together--(theatre or theater).
  • Use the truncation symbol that most databases allow you to attach to a root in order to search all possible endings--for example, theat* (truncation symbols vary--check Help--but the asterisk is probably the most common).
The spelling used in Library of Congress Subject Headings is Theater. For the sake of consistency, this guide will use the -er spelling, except where a particular resource requires the -re.

Theater vs. Theaters vs. Drama

It will help clarify some of the Subject searching described below to know how the Library of Congress defines the scope of these terms.
  • Theater: drama as acted on a stage.
  • Theaters: the structures that house stages.
  • Drama: a literary genre--plays and critical analysis of plays.

All the Library's a Stage

     Materials from every part of the collection are potentially useful for Theatre Arts research: literary criticism, history, architecture, interior decoration, costume, painting, photography, lighting & sound technology, music, dance, acting, arts management, law, and commerce.
     Learning to search--and browse--the Library's in-house and online resources is especially useful for Theater students.

Drama: by Country

  • To find resources on the plays and literary traditions of a particular country, run a Subject search using the adjective form of the country before "drama."
American dramaFrench dramaSpanish dramaEnglish dramaRussian drama.

Note: The best books on the dramatic tradition of a country will often be found under the subheading "History and Criticism":

English drama--Early modern and Elizabethan--History and criticism
French drama--18th century--History and criticism
American drama--20th century--History and criticism
  • Play texts and criticism are shelved by country, then by period, then by author. For example, Russian literature has call numbers beginning with PG, French PQ, British PR, and American PS. Within the range for each country, drama is interfiled with poetry and fiction of the same era. There is no single dramatic literature section to browse.
  • To find resources on the history/politics/society/culture of a particular country at a particular time, run a Subject search on the name of the country and look especially at the subheadings --Civilization, --Description and travel, --History, --Politics and government, --Social conditions, and --Social life and customs. All of these subheadings may be further subdivided by time period.
  • Also see my research guide for History of Theatre.

Drama: by Playwright

  •  Works about playwrights:
Begin by running a Subject search on your author. For example, a Subject search on O'Neill, Eugene in the IC Library catalog retrieves--

# Titles Headings
20 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953.
2 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953--Biography.
1 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953--Characters--Cornelius Melody.
17 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953--Criticism and interpretation.
2 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953--Film and video adaptations.
2 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953. Iceman cometh.
1 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953. Long day's journey into night.
1 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953--Manuscripts.
1 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953--Philosophy.
1 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953--Political and social views.
2 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953--Stage history.
3 O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953--Technique.
Note that most criticism will be assigned the subheading "History and Criticism." Also note that critical studies of a single work will take the title as a subheading.
  • Works by playwrights:
     Since you probably have the texts you are writing about, running an Author search might seem unnecessary. But Author searches often uncover collections of letters, essays, works in other genres, and adaptations for other media--all shedding light on the writer and the work. An Author search on O'Neill, Eugene retrieves--

Desire under the elms [videorecording] / Paramount ; directed by Delbert Mann.
Emperor Jones : opera in two acts
Emperor Jones. [sound recording]
Long day's journey into night [videorecording] /directed by Sidney Lumet.
Lost plays / by Eugene O'Neill.
Nine plays / by Eugene O'Neill; selected by the author; introduction by Joseph Wood Krutch.
Poems, 1912-1944 / Eugene O'Neill ; edited by Donald Gallup.
Six short plays of Eugene O'Neill
"Theatre we worked for" : the letters of Eugene O'Neill to Kenneth Macgowan

Individual Plays: by Title

  • The problem: If you enter the title of a play as a Title search in the Library catalog, you will retrieve only items with exactly that title. But plays are often packaged in collections with titles like World Drama or The Plays of Henrik Ibsen or Best Plays of the 1940s--and these will not be retrieved.
  • The solution: When searching a play title use the Keyword search--and be sure to enclose a multi-word title in quotation marks to search it as a single phrase. This will retrieve not only items with the identical title, but also items where that title occurs only in the Table of Contents. (Note: this will also retrieve criticism where the play is named in a book or chapter title--but these can be rapidly sorted out).

Individual Plays: Multimedia Adaptations

  • To find a movie version or a filmed stage production of a play, enter a Keyword search in the IC Library catalog with the name of the play + the word "videorecording." If the play title is more than one word, put it in quotation marks to search it as a single phrase. Note: the search term "videorecording" targets both videos and dvds. If you use "dvd" instead of "videorecording," you won't retrieve the videos.
  • To find a sound recording of a play or a cast recording of a musical, enter a Keyword search in the IC Library catalog with the name of the play + the word "recording." If the play title is more than one word, put it in quotation marks to search it as a single phrase. Note: the search term "recording" targets records, cassettes, and cds.
  • To access an alphabetical list of all sound recordings, videos, and dvds of musicals in the Library's collection, enter " Musicals" as a Subject search and then click on that Heading.

Actors' resources

Dancers' Resources

Playwriting Resources

     Although  Playwriting might seem the obvious Subject search, the bulk of a library's resources on how to construct a play will be found under  Drama--Technique. See also  Characters and characteristics in literatureDialogue, and  Plots (Drama, novel, etc.). For works on writing a screenplay try  Motion picture authorship. And  Creative writing covers all literary genres.

Technical Theater/Theater Design

Theater & Society

Theater and society
Theater and society--England
Theater and society--Great Britain
Theater and society--France
Theater and society--United States

Women in the theater
Feminism and theater
Feminist theater
American drama--Women authors--History and criticism
Women in the performing arts
Women in the performing arts--Cross-cultural studies
Women in literature
Sexism in literature​
     Also look for the subheading Characters--Women under the names of individual authors: Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616--Characters--Women

Race in the theater
African American theater
African Americans in the performing arts
American drama--African American authors--History and criticism
American drama--Minority authors--History and criticism
African Americans in literature
Race in literature
Racism in literature
Minorities in literature

Hispanic American theater
Hispanic Americans in the performing arts
American drama--Hispanic American authors
Ethnic groups in literature

Emigration and immigration in literature
Immigrants in literature
Postcolonialism in literature

Homosexuality and theater
Gay theater--United States
Sex role in the theater
Gays and the performing arts
Homosexuality in literature
Sex role in literature
Gender identity in literature

Jews in the performing arts
Jews in literature
Antisemitism in literature

Social classes in literature
Money in literature
Poor in literature
Poverty in literature
Middle class in literature
Wealth in literature
Social conflict in literature
Social conflict--United States

Performance art
Performance art--United States
Performance art--Political aspects--United States
Performance art--New York (State)--New York

Other (Philosophy) in literature
Outsiders in literature
Identity (Philosophical concept) in literature
Difference (Psychology) in literature
Alienation (Social psychology) in literature
Deviant behavior in literature
Dissenters in literature

Not in the IC Library??

     WorldCat via FirstSearch  is a "union catalog" that allows you to search the holdings of over 10,000 libraries from accross the country and around the world. Check WorldCat to discover what the entire universe of possible resources looks like for your topic. 
User Advisory:
  • Because this is such an enormous database you need to choose a "Limit Type to" before you begin. Most commonly you will be looking for "Books," "Visual Materials" (for example DVDs), or "Sound Recordings."
  • I recommend you avoid the "Author phrase," "Title phrase," and "Subject phrase" search fields and use "Author," "Title," or "Subject" instead. The "phrase" searches must be exact and are unforgiving.
  • If your topic is time-sensitive, try focusing on a recent time span under Year.
  • When you find an item you want you can request an interlibrary loan by opening the WorldCat record and clicking on "ILL (order via interlibrary loan)," which you'll find toward the top of the record under "External Resources." This will connect you to Ithaca College Library interlibrary loan, where you log in using your usual Netpass name and password. Logging in opens a form where all the identifying data will have automatically been transferred from the WorldCat record. All you have to do is click "Submit."

Contact Us

picture of Jennifer Richards

Jennifer Richards

Fine Arts Librarian
(607) 274-1199

Articles & Web Sites

Finding Visual Resources

Finding Visuals  (Library, databases, Web)

Theatre in Video

: Streaming video of stage productions and movie adaptations. "Productions" represent all eras, from The Agamemnon & Oedipus Rex to Twelfth Night & The Alchemist to She Stoops to Conquer & Tartuffe to Krapp's Last Tape & To be Young, Gifted and Black. Also browse the "Documentaries" which include videos on the Renaissance Stage, Restoration Theater, and Kabuki or interviews with Arthur Miller, Lee Strasberg, Tennessee Williams, and John Gielgud. 
Note: Theater in Video requires Flash Player v.8 or higher and a minimum of 400kbps of bandwidth.Also note: a limit of 5 simultaneous users.

Citation Help

MLA Citation

MLA is the citation style used by most disciplines in the Humanities. Here is my guide to the latest (2016) update of the MLA style.