Script Analysis //

This is a general outline of research steps for the Script Analysis (THEA152) research assignment. All the items listed below are in the Greenfield Library or available online. Be sure to ask for assistance if you don't find what you need - there's much more information available. If you have questions about this topic please contact Sara MacDonald, Public Services Librarian.

You may also be interested in the Character Research for Theater or Theater Research subject guide.

If you are new to research, there are many sources to help you get started:

BEST ADVICE OF ALL: Don't wait until the last minute to start your research. College-level research takes time.

Finding the Play || Primary Research Sources || Secondary Research Sources || Periodical Indexes


  • Find your play by looking up the author or the title in the library catalog. When searching by author be sure to search the last name first.

  • If you can't find a play by searching for the title, try a keyword search. Put quotation marks around phrases, e.g., "blood wedding". Keyword will find your words in contents notes, thus allowing you to find your play in an anthology.


Primary sources for this project include the play itself, reviews of the play, the author's own words about his or her work or the particular play.

Other primary sources include the country and the culture of the time in which your play is set, so as part of your analysis you may want to look at music, art, films, mass media, popular culture, etc., from your play's time period. One way to find out what was going in is with a chronology. A chronology is a book that lists events through history; they are often arranged in broad categories of the arts, history, politics, science, and daily life, although there are specialized chronologies as well. Check the index of any chronology for your topic. These chronologies can give you names of people and events that you can check in the library catalog or in other reference books.

The New York Times Guide to the Arts of the 20th Century. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2002.
REF NX456 .N49 2002 v.1-4
"Reviews, News Articles, Interviews and Essays Capturing 100 Years of Art, Architecture, Literature, Music, Dance, Theater, Film and Television."--from the cover. Excellent source for seeing what else was going on in the arts when your play came out. Includes original reviews (a primary source!) from the New York Times and provides production credits. Check the index in volume 4 for your playwright.

Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. New York: Simon & Schuster, c1991.
REF D11 .G78 1991

Chronicle of the 20th Century. London; New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1995.
REF D422 .C53 1995

Timelines of the Arts and Literature/ David Brownstone and Irene Franck. New York: HarperCollins, c1994.
REF NX447.5 .B76 1994

The Arts: A History of Expression in the 20th Century/ edited by Ronald Tamplin. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
REF NX456 .A76 1991
Includes very little drama, but a good source for an overview of the arts in any particular period of the 20th century.

American History in Video / Alexander Street Press, 2009- .
A streaming video database, this contains documentaries, newsreels, and vintage film footage related to American history.


To find biographical material about your author and criticism of the play, start in reference books. These are great sources and may be the only sources you'll need.

American Playwrights Since 1945: A Guide to Scholarship, Criticism, and Performance. Edited by Philip C. Kolin. New York: Greenwood Press, c1989.
REF Z1231.D7 A53 1989
For each playwright, includes assessment of reputation, primary bibliography of playwright's works, production history, survey of secondary sources, future research opportunities, and secondary sources. **Please note this is American playwrights only.**

International Dictionary of Theatre / editor Mark Hawkins-Dady. Chicago; London: St. James Press, c1992. Volume 1, Plays.
REF PN2035 .I49 1992 v.1
Provides date and place of first production, brief synopsis, bibliography (usually), and a brief scholarly essay. Includes Blood Wedding, The Crucible, Fences, Major Barbara, Philadelphia, Here I Come!, Pygmalion, Richard III, Twelfth Night,and Yerma. See also Volume 2, Playwrights.

International Dictionary of Theatre / editor Mark Hawkins-Dady. Chicago; London: St. James Press, c1992. Volume 2, Playwrights.
REF PN2035 .I49 1992 v.2
Provides biographical information, list of works, a list of books and articles about the playwright, and a brief scholarly essay. See also Volume 1, Plays.

Although primarily collections of criticism, these volumes are organized by author and include biographical material at the beginning of each author. Check the last volume to see which volumes include your author.

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research.
Similar to Drama Criticism, but covers different authors.

Bordman, Gerald Martin.The Oxford Companion to American Theatre. 3rd ed. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
REF PN2220 .B6 2004 Also available through ebrary.

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre & Performance/ edited by Dennis Kennedy. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
REF PN2035 .O94 2003 v.1 A-L
REF PN2035 .O94 2003 v.2 M-Z

Basic overviews of many playwrights; bibliographies included for some. Includes a timeline toward the end of volume 2. Also available online.

Cambridge Guide to American Theatre / edited by Don B. Wilmeth and Tice L. Miller. Cambridge University Press, 1993.
REF PN2221 .C37 2007

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama: An International Reference Work in 5Volumes / Stanley Hochman, editor in chief. New York: McGraw-Hill, c1984.
REF PN1625 .M3 1984 v.1-5
Good for general overviews and a bibliography.

Selected Theatre Criticism/ Edited by Anthony Slide. Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1985-
REF PN2277.N5 S44 1985 v. 1, 1900-1919; v. 2, 1920-1930; v. 3, 1930-1950..
Selected reprints (i.e., the entire review) of theater reviews for the years covered.

**If you still would like more material go to the library catalog and look up your playwright's name by SUBJECT. Remember: LAST NAME FIRST when searching the catalog for people as author or as subject. Look for the subheading CRITICISM AND INTERPRETATION after your author's name. Again, a few of these books are on course reserve.


You will want to use a periodical index to find articles about your author or the play. A complete list of our electronic periodical indexes and databases is available on our Articles-Databases and Indexes page. These will probably be the most useful:

PLEASE NOTE: To access the databases listed here from off-campus, you will need to enter your UArts email login and password.

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