For copies of scripts not owned by the UC libraries (or not listed separately in our catalogs), or which you wish to purchase or obtain performance rights for, searching the websites of the principal script publishers -- Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing, and Broadway Play Publishing --is often the quickest way.
The most comprehensive online index to plays (published separately or in anthologies) is Play Index. It locates over 30,000 plays from antiquity to the present published in anthologies, single-author collections, and individual scripts published since 1949. Available at all UC campuses. .
A standard index to plays in collections, now in its eighth edition, is Ottemiller's Index to Plays in Collections: An Author and Title Index to Plays Appearing in Collections Published Since 1900. Lanham MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011. UCSD: Geisel Reference PN 1655 .O88 2011. UCI has 7th ed., 1988, in Langson Reference Z 5781 .O78 1988
A useful bibliography of pre-1970 plays published in periodicals: Plays in Periodicals, compiled by Charlotte A. Patterson (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1970). UCSD: Geisel Reference PN 1665 .P3 ; UCI: Langson stacks Z 5781 .P3
A bibliography of English-language plays known to exist before 1909 is still useful: "The Stage" Cyclopædia; A Bibliography of Plays. An alphabetical list of plays and other stage pieces of which any record can be found since the commencement of the English stage, together with descriptions, authors' names, dates and places of production, and other useful information, comprising in all nearly 50,000 plays, and extending over a period of upwards of 500 years. Compiled by Reginald Clarence. New York: B. Franklin, 1970 (rpt. of 1909 ed.) UCSD: Geisel Reference PR 625 .E4 / UCI has original 1909 edition at Langson Reference Z 2014 .D7 E4
The best way to determine if there is a published, book-length bibliography of plays within certain parameters is to use an LCSH heading followed by the word Bibliography, e.g. "American Drama--Bibliography,"
For a description of some of the different ebook platforms and their functionalities that the UCSD Library acquires, click here. For digital texts of plays in large collections, collections of scholarly monographs in digital format, and selected websites with digital historical or ephemeral materials relating to the performing arts, click on the tab "Digital Texts."
Generally, libraries' online catalogs contain records for the books (print or digital), audio-visual materials such as DVDs, journals and other serials, and archival collections that they own or provide access to, along with selected records with links to websites that are deemed particularly useful for our users. Generally, they do NOT contain records for the individual articles, papers, chapters, or items within those journals, books, and collections, or for the specific items in manuscript or archival collections. To discover these materials, use the resources in the tabs "Article Databases" and "Bibliographies." For detailed descriptions of archival collections, see the examples of detailed finding lists under the tab "Theater Archives."
In addition to searching for authors, titles, and keywords, library catalogs use a fixed thesaurus of subject headings, developed by the Library of Congress, to bring together books on similar topics. See examples relating to theater, dance, and performance in the box below.
The libraries of the ten campuses of the University of California system increasingly consider themselves one unified collection and place a high priority on reducing the number of duplicate printed books, especially those that are highly specialized and infrequently checked out. Due to the strong performing arts collections at both UCLA and UC Berkeley, as well as specialized strengths at all of the ten UC libraries, you may wish to begin your search in MELVYL, the unified catalog of the UC libraries. Interlibrary loans can be launched within Melvyl; simply click on the "Request" tab in the record for an item you need that is not available on your home campus.
See the box on the right for more information about libraries beyond the UC system.
The UCSD and UCI libraries employ subject headings in our catalogs that are adopted and continually updated by the Library of Congress; hence the name LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings). Here are some guidelines to their use:
A personal name can be used, e.g.: “Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966.”
Books about a person that are critical or interpretive in nature may have the subheading “Criticism and interpretation,” e.g. “Antoine, Andre, 1858-1943—Criticism and Interpretation,” but don’t ignore the books listed only under the basic heading.
An organizational name can be used, e.g. “Provincetown Players,” “Mabou Mines (Theater group),” “Urban Bush Women (Dance Company)," "Théâtre Populaire Romand,” “Teatro Campesino (Organization),” or “Actors Equity Association.” Note that unless an organization spells its name with "re," the American spelling of theater is used in all subject headings.
A dramatic or theatrical “movement” can be used if the term has wide acceptance and usage, e.g. “feminist theater,” “theater of the absurd,” “workers’ theater,” “readers’ theater,” or “agitprop theater.”
Books on theoretical and critical approaches to drama and theater can be used, although the Library of Congress typically waits until the term or phrase is widely used. Some headings for fairly recent theoretical concepts that are used include: Postcolonialism, Poststructuralism, Queer theory, Gender identity, and Masculinity in the theater. Some headings that are not used (as of late 2013): performativity, theatricality, intercultural or cross-cultural theater.
Here are some of the basic headings, along with examples of how they may be sub-divided:
Theater—Congresses [used for published proceedings of scholarly conferences]
Theater—[Country, Continent, Region, State, etc., but not a city]
(Books about theater in a particular city are listed after the name of the county, province, or region,” e.g.: “Theater—New York State—New York” or “Theater—Italy—Palermo”
Theater—[Country, Continent, Region, State, etc.]—History
Theater—[Country, etc.]—History—[Particular time period, e.g. Century, Dynasty, etc.]
Theater—[Country, etc.]—Production & Direction—History
Theater and Society
Theater and Society—[Country, Continent, Region, State, etc.]
Theater and State
Theater—Law and Legislation
Theater—Production and Direction
Theaters—Law and Legislation
Theatrical producers and directors
Theatrical producers and directors—Biography
Theatrical producers and directors—Interviews
Aesthetics, Modern—20th Century
Aesthetics, Modern—21st Century
African American theater (Hispanic American theater, Greek theater,
Mexican American Theater [not “Chicano Theater”]).
American drama—Mexican American Authors (not “Chicano Drama”)
Dramatists, Canadian (Irish, Russian, etc.)
Feminist theater, Gay theater, Lesbian theater, etc.
Mass media—Technological Innovations
Sex role in the Theater
Women theatrical producers and directors
CAUTION: Whenever a book is primarily analyzing the TEXTS of dramatic works, even if it comments on their performative aspects, the Library of Congress is more likely to use “Literature,” maybe “Drama,” but not “Theater” in the subject headings. For example, the book Act Like a Man: Challenging Masculinities in American Drama (Robert Vorlicky, University of Michigan Press, 1995) receives the following subject headings: “Gender identity in literature,” “Masculinity in literature,” “Sex role in literature,” “Men in literature,” and “American Drama—20th Century—History and Criticism,” not “Sex Role in the Theater.”
For newer, more theoretical approaches to theater and, in particular, performance studies, LC is still grappling with terminology. Here are some possibilities:
Masculinity in the Theater (introduced ca. 2008)
Performance [Generally used in the past for human productivity, i.e. job performance, but books on live or recorded theatrical performance are increasingly included here as well.]
Queer Theory (introduced 2006)
Social Media (introduced 2006)
Theater (or Performing Arts)—Anthropological Aspects
Theater (or Performing Arts)—Philosophy
Theater (or Performing Arts)—Semiotics
Theater (or Performing Arts)—Social Aspects
Theater (or Performing Arts)—Study and Teaching