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Library Home » Articles & Guides » Theatre Arts Research » Drama and Theatre Sources

Drama and Theatre Sources



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Art History and World Culture

Use these reference works to locate information about the visual and performing arts as well as other aspects of world culture that relate to the study of drama and theatre.

Dictionary of Art
This is the new standard for reference in the visual arts and related disciplines. It covers many aspects of theatre and performance arts and is international in scope. The online version of this source, Oxford Art Online, is also available.

Encyclopedia of World Art
Once considered the cornerstone of every reference collection in art, this work covers the entire field of visual arts in all countries and all time periods. It is profusely illustrated, mostly in black and white.

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed.
This reference set provides articles on composers and performers of mainly western European and American origin from antiquity to the present. It also includes information on stage designers and theatre producers considered important to the study of music.

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mankind
The aim of this encyclopedia is to describe the lifestyles and social organization of over 500 peoples and cultural groups world wide. The last five volumes treat specific aspects of human society from a cross-cultural perspective and includes articles on the performing arts such as music, dance, and drama.

International Encyclopedia of Dance
This encyclopedia covers every aspect of dance and its relationship to other performing arts, including theater. Heavily illustrated with useful indexes and content outlines.

Man, Myth, and Magic
This source contains articles on a wide range of topics concerning religious belief and the occult, often from an historical or cross-cultural perspective. Illustrations appear on every page.

Dictionary of Ornament
This dictionary is a survey of ornament, pattern, and motif in the applied arts and architecture, covering mainly European buildings and objects from the Renaissance to the present day.

A Dictionary of Furniture
This dictionary lists terms describing furniture and various accessories of furnishing made and used in England since AD 1100 and in North America since the mid-17th century. Section V lists books and periodicals on furniture and design. Section VI provides tables listing the time period, furniture types, materials used and the kinds of craftsmen producing furniture from 1100 to 1950.

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Background Information: Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, and Handbooks

Use these sources to define terms and concepts used in the drama and theatre disciplines. Consult encyclopedias at the beginning of a research project to obtain a concise overview of a concept, school of thought, or a particular person's contribution to the dramatic and theatre arts.

Cambridge Guide to the Theatre
The intention of this guide is "offer a comprehensive view of the history and present practice of the theatre in all parts of the world..." Their second aim is to "celebrate the vitality and importance of popular theatre and popular entertainment.." Includes articles on national theatres which attempt to cover theatre traditions in that country or region from the classical and medieval eras onward. Articles also present aspects of theatre such as costume, stage lighting, actors, directors, and play authors.

Companion to the Medieval Theatre

This one volume work contains concise essays on works, play authors, types of plays, and stagecraft of the Middle Ages. It also contains articles on the relation between the arts and society of Western Europe during that time period.

The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre

This is an indispensable tool for theatre reference. It focuses largely on the "legitimate theatre". The coverage of U.S. And British regional theatre is excellent. For stage management and production articles consult the 3RD edition shelved at the same call number on the 3RD FLOOR.

Drama Dictionary
The Drama Dictionary is loaded with articles about every aspect of theater. It contains short articles on terms associated with technical theater, theater history, and theater performance. It is very strong in its coverage of western theater traditions including entries on ancient Greek theater through the late 20th century. It also includes information about non-western theater. This is the best one-volume compendium of western theatre terms and definitions available in Owens Library.

Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre

This encyclopedia emphasizes performers, authors, and composers as well as musical productions themselves. It covers primarily European examples of musical theatre and a great deal of attention is given to 19th and 20th century American and British musicals.

International Dictionary of Theatre Vol. 1: PLAYS

This work examines drama both as literature and performance and it is international in scope. It includes entries for historical periods from Ancient Greece to the present.

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama
The emphasis in this reference set is on play authors themselves with consideration of national and ethnic theatre traditions and theatre in specific countries taking second priority. It is heavily illustrated.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre & Performance
The Oxford Encyclopedia "treats most aspects of theatre and performance over time and on a worldwide scale". This encyclopedia is particularly strong in covering performance related issues of theatre and biographies of persons associated with theatre. Theatre traditions of cities and regions are emphasized over generalized articles on national theatres. This work is also particularly strong in covering international theatre and concerns of non-Western concepts and issues.

World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre
The aim of this set is to sketch out the political and social context of each nation and then to comparatively explore every country's theatrical history since 1945. Countries from Africa, the Arab world, Asia and Oceania, the Americas and Europe are covered in this exhaustive treatment of contemporary international theatre.

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Biography Sources

Find biographical and critical information on play authors, directors, actors, scene designers using these sources.

Biographical Dictionary of Scenographers: 500 BC to 1900 AD
Alphabetical list of western scene designers from 500 BC to 1900 AD Contains a bibliography of 435 supplemental sources.

Dictionary of Literary Biography

This series offers concise biographical and critical evaluations of selected play authors and their works. The cumulative indexes are in each volume and are arranged by author and title of works considered. The master index for this series is contained in the cumulative index to the Contemporary Authors series, 1st Floor, Reference 920 C76. Titles in the series that focus on play author biographies exclusively are as follows - Twentieth Century Dramatist, Vol. 1; Modern British Dramatists, 1900-1945, Vol. 10; British Dramatists Since World War II, Vol. 13; Afro-American Writers after 1955: Dramatists and Prose Writers, Vol. 38; Jacobean and Caroline Dramatists, Vol. 58; Elizabethan Dramatists, Vol. 62; Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Dramatists, Vol. 80; Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Dramatists, second series, Vol. 84; Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Dramatists, third series, Vol. 89; Twentieth Century German Dramatists, 1889-1918, Vol. 118; Twentieth Century German Dramatists, 1919-1992, Vol. 124; Twentieth Century American Dramatists, second series, Vol. 228; British and Irish Dramatists Since World War II, Vol. 245; Twentieth Century American Dramatists, third series, Vol. 249. Other dramatists biographies are contained throughout the series. Learn how to search the series by author name using the Gale Literature Criticism Series Guide.

Drama Criticism
With this source locate play author biographical sketches, a list of principal works, overviews, excerpts of critical evaluations and sources for further reading.

Drama For Students
This series covers dramatic works spanning the fifth century BC to the 1990s. It is intended to concentrate on "significant theatrical works whose themes and form transcend the uncertainty of dramatic fads". Each entry focuses on one play and contains an author biography along with a section on historical and cultural context.

International Dictionary of Theatre Vol. 2: Playwrights
The scope of this work is historical ("ranging from Ancient Greece to that of the present day") and international. This volume "contains entries for 485 writers of the stage", many of which are studied and performed today as well as those whose work has primarily historical significance. Each entry contains a biographical summary, a complete list of works including works for the stage, and a list of critical studies of the authors and their work.

International Dictionary of Theatre Vol. 3: Actors, Directors and Designers
The scope of this work is historical ("ranging from Ancient Greece to that of the present day") and international. This volume "contains entries on 300 actors, directors, and designers for the stage", many of which have had a lasting effect on the development of world drama. Others have primarily historical significance. Each entry contains a biographical summary, a list of productions or roles, and a list of biographical and critical studies of the artists and their work.

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama
The emphasis in this reference set is on play authors. It is heavily illustrated.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre & Performance
45 percent of the text in this set is devoted to concise biographies.

Theatrical Designers: An International Biographical Dictionary
Discusses the careers of 270 set, costume, and lighting designers of drama, opera, dance, and film productions. Includes contemporary and historical figures and focuses primarily on western designers.

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Drama Criticism

Use these sources to find references to critical drama studies in books or journal articles and locate critical essays or excerpts of critical essays.

Critical Survey of Drama: English Language Series
Use this reference set to find in-depth discussions of 198 writers arranged alphabetically by play author. Entries include a biographical sketch, a critical survey of the play author's professional achievements and an extensive critical analysis of each play author's works.

Critical Survey of Drama: Foreign Language Series

This survey provides an in-depth discussion of 1649 writers, arranged alphabetically by play author. Entries includes a biographical sketch, a critical survey of each play author's professional achievements and an extensive critical analysis of each play author's works.

Critical Survey of Drama, Revised Edition
This edition contains 22 new entries from the first edition, with one-third of the articles from the previous edition significantly revised and updated. The same format and arrangement is used as the previous edition.

Dictionary of Literary Biography
This series offers concise biographical and critical evaluations of selected play authors and their works. The cumulative indexes are in each volume and are arranged by author and title of works considered. The master index for this series is contained in the cumulative index to the Contemporary Authors series, 1st Floor, Reference 920 C76.

Drama Criticism
With this source locate play author biographical sketches, a list of principal works, overviews, excerpts of critical evaluations and sources for further reading.

Drama For Students
This series covers dramatic works spanning the fifth century BC to the 1990s. It is intended to concentrate on "significant theatrical works whose themes and form transcend the uncertainty of dramatic fads". Each entry focuses on one play and contains the following elements - introduction, author biography, plot summary, characters, themes, style, historical and cultural context, critical overview, for further study section, sources, and criticism section.

Dramatic Criticism Index: A Bibliography of Commentaries on Playwrights from Ibsen to the Avant-garde
This is a selective index to nearly 12,000 commentaries on modern playwrights and their plays. The book is arranged alphabetically by playwright, then by title of the work.

European Drama Criticism
Consult this source book for a selection of critical writings about European plays; it is arranged alphabetically by playwright, then by title of the work.

Gale Literature Criticism Series
Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800
Shakespearean Criticism
Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism
Contemporary Literary Criticism

These sets contain excerpts from literary critics of different time periods. Entries are indexed by the author and the title of the works considered.

Guide to Critical Reviews
Volumes one and two of the most current edition of this set are located in the 1st Floor, Reference Collection. Volume one contains reviews of American drama from 1909 to 1982. Volume two lists reviews of musicals from 1909 until 1989. Earlier editions of this set contain four volumes. Volume three contains reviews of European drama and volume four has reviews of screenplays.

Modern Drama Scholarship and Criticism, 1966-1980: An International Bibliography
Use this selective list of critical publications on world drama to locate critical studies of playwrights since Ibsen. It provides over 27,300 entries about plays and playwrights.

Shakespeare for Students
Shakespeare for Students is intended to "offer insights into Shakespeare's plays from the perspective of numerous 20th century critics". Each entry focuses on one play and includes the following elements - an introduction and summary of the plot, literary criticism arranged by topic, explanatory annotations to preface the critical essays, and sources for further reading.

Shakespeare's Characters for Students
This volume is intended to provide students with information about Shakespeare's characters such as their role in the play and the motivation for their actions. Each play entry contains the following elements - plot summary, modern connections relating issues and themes to modern times, and an alphabetical listing of the characters in the play with a descriptive examination of their actions, relationships and motivation.


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Library Catalogs

Find books and videocassettes in Owens Library by using the Library Catalog. Find books in all college and university libraries in Missouri using the MOBIUS catalog. Search for books in libraries across the United States using WorldCat. Use interlibrary loan to borrow books from other libraries outside of the Missouri.

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Nations, Ethnic Groups, and Time Periods

Find information about time periods, national identities, and ethnic groups important to the study of drama and theatre using these sources.


Cambridge Historical Encyclopedia of Great Britain and Ireland

This source presents a sweeping range of subjects related to British history and society.

Dictionary of American History

This dictionary contains a comprehensive treatment of all significant time periods, events, and historical figures in American culture and society.

Dictionary of the Middle Ages

This dictionary provides exhaustive coverage of European arts and society during the Medieval period. The set includes many entries which discuss the drama and theatre genres and practices prevalent in the Middle Ages.

Dictionary of Modern Italian History
"This volume surveys in alphabetical order the chief events, personalities, institutions, systems, and problems of Italy from the eighteenth century to the present."

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History
This encyclopedia contains articles on a wide range of topics relevant to African-American arts and culture. Several articles deal with drama and theatre contributions of African-Americans.

Encyclopedia of the Renaissance
Encyclopedia of the Renaissance "presents a panoramic view of the cultural movement and the period of history called the Renaissance". This set includes articles covering various aspects of drama and theatre and persons closely associate with renaissance drama.

Encyclopedia of Romanticism: Culture in Britain, 1780s-1830s
This encyclopedia is "designed to survey the social, cultural, and intellectual climate of English Romanticism" from the 1780s to the 1830s. "This book considers poets, playwrights, and novelists; critics, editors, and booksellers; painters, patrons, and architects; as well as ideas, trends, fads, and conventions, the familiar and the newly rediscovered."

Greenwood encyclopedia of daily life : a tour through history from ancient times to the present
This encyclopedia attempts to show how ordinary people in various time periods and cultures went about the business and pleasure of their daily lives. Each volume is arranged thematically, containing a section for historical overview, domestic life, economic life, intellectual life, material life, political life, recreational life (including theater), and religious life. The time periods covered are as follows: 1. The ancient world -- 2. The medieval world -- 3. 15th and 16th centuries -- 4. 17th and 18th centuries -- 5. 19th century -- 6. The modern world. for a more in-depth look at specific cultures and time periods, Greenwood Press also publishes a series of related book under the series title - "Daily Life Through History" Series.

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Medieval Civilization
This is a one volume compendium of essays on medieval western European civilization.

The Italian Renaissance
This book deals with the dawn and spread of the Italian Renaissance. Included are helpful sections with information on the Arts, Florence, Milan, Rome, and Venice.

Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan
This encyclopedia set provides a wealth of information on the history and culture of Japan. It includes various articles on the types of traditional theatre productions characteristic of Japan.

Medieval France: an Encyclopedia
The essays in this source cover all aspects of civilization in medieval France and includes entries discussing drama and theatre topics.

New Century Italian Renaissance Encyclopedia
This encyclopedia contains a diverse selection of articles on various topics that define the art and culture of Italy during the Renaissance period. It also contains information on how ideas that defined the renaissance in Italy could be applied to other regions and countries.

Renaissance: an Illustrated Encyclopedia
Use this source to find essays devoted to various topics on the art and culture of western European countries during the 14th through 16th centuries.

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Theatre History

Use these volumes to begin research on the development of theatrical performance over time. The history of European theatre traditions is especially well covered. Use the sources in the Background Information section to find more information on the history of theatre traditions.

History of the Theatre
This work is regarded as one of the best one-volume histories of world theatre. Emphasis is given to the European theatre. Excellent coverage is given to Greek, Roman, and renaissance theatres. Performance practice, architecture, and theatrical conditions are considered for each time period and genre.


Oxford Illustrated History of the Theatre
This work focuses on the history of western theatre from the classical Greece and Rome through 1970. Chapters on the theatre of Africa, South America, and various regions of Asia are also included. As the title implies, copious illustrations of performances, stage design, and theatre architecture is provided.

Neoclassical Theatre: A Historiographical Handbook
The subjects of English Theatre from 1642-1800, the Theatre of Eighteenth-Century France, the Theatre of Eighteenth Century Italy, and the Internationalization of Eighteenth-Century Theatre receive in-depth coverage in this book.

Period Style for the Theatre
This is a concise guide to style of a period of time as it relates to the development of western theatre traditions. Each chapter investigates the art and culture, life and cultural ideals, ornament and furniture, costume and accessories, movement, theatre, plays and acting as they apply to a particular style of a time period.

Theatre: Three Thousand Years of Drama, Acting, and Stagecraft
Sheldon Cheney has attempted to provide a sweeping overview of theatre performance practice and theater construction and layout from antiquity to the modern period just before World War II. As the title implies, the mechanics of theatre are stressed as much as the conceptual aspects of play authors and the influence of related arts.

Western Theatre: Revolution and Revival
Western Theatre attempts to define the three major paradigms of Western theatre history - the facade stage of ancient Greece and Rome, the emblematic stage of the Middle Ages, and the illusionistic stage of the renaissance that has influenced theatre in the 20th century. The modern period they have identified as the "theatre in search of a paradigm". They provide numerous lists, charts, and maps to support their text.

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All quoted material is from the respective source.

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