This is a research guide for finding materials on theater in the Greenfield Library at The University of the Arts. Reference materials are the first tab, followed by suggested subject headings for searching library catalogs. Periodical indexes to magazine articles and newspapers are next, followed by style manuals and finally Web sites. If you have questions about this topic please contact Jim Cowen (, 215-717-6283), Access Services Librarian.

If you're interested in theater you may also be interested in Character Research for Theater or Costume.


The first place to look when beginning research on a topic is in reference material: specialized dictionaries, encyclopedias or handbooks. These allow you to check names, dates and places, find additional information, look up unknown terms, and check for the proper spelling of words. They are particularly helpful for finding basic background information on a topic, and are often the only place many students may need to look to find answers to their questions. They may include bibliographies (lists of additional materials on a topic, usually considered by the author to be the best materials on that topic) that you can use to find other materials.

Call numbers are for the Greenfield Library unless otherwise indicated. REF in front of a call number indicates the reference section of the library, which in Greenfield is opposite the circulation desk.



Acting: An International Encyclopedia. Beth Osnes. Santa Barbara, CA; Denver CO: ABC-CLIO, c2001.
REF PN2035 .O84 2001
A better title would be Theater and Acting: An International Dictionary. Brief entries on people (including some film directors and actors), styles and forms of theater, geographical entries. Each entry has a short bibliography.

American Playwrights Since 1945: A Guide to Scholarship, Criticism, and Performance / edited by Philip C. Kolin. NY: Greenwood Press, c1989.
REF Z1231.D7 A53 1989

Bordman, Gerald Martin. The Oxford Companion to American Theatre. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, 2004.
REF PN2220 .B6 2004

Brewer's Theater: A Phrase and Fable Dictionary. 1st U.S. ed. HarperCollins, c1994.
REF PN2035 .B74 1994

Pavis, Patrice. Dictionary of the Theatre: Terms, Concepts, and Analysis. University of Toronto Press, 1998.
REF PN2035 .P2913 1998

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

The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge University Press, 1995.
REF PN2035 .C27 1995

The Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama / edited by Gabrielle H. Cody and Evert Sprinchorn. NY: Columbia University Press, c2007.
REF PN1861 .C65 2007 v.1-2

The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre. 2nd ed. Edited by Phyllis Hartnoll and Peter Found. London, New York, Oxford University Press, 1992.
REF PN2035 .C63 1992

Leiter, Samuel L. The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage, 1920-1930. Greenwood Press, 1985.
REF PN2277.N5 L36 1985 v.1-2

Leiter, Samuel L. The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage, 1930-1940. Greenwood Press, 1989.
REF PN2277.N5 L364 1989

The Encyclopedia of World Theater: With 420 Illustrations and an Index of Play Titles / introd. by Martin Esslin. NY: Scribner, c1977.
REF PN2035 .E52 1977

North American Theatre Online. Alexander Street Press, 2005 - .
A growing resource that includes the text of titles such as Oxford Companion to the American Theatre (3rd ed.), Notable Women in the American Theatre (1989), Encyclopedia of the New York Stage, 1920-1930, American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1969-2000 (2001), Profiles of African American Stage Performers and Theatre People, 1816-1960 and more to come.

Harrison, Martin. The Language of Theatre. Routledge, 1998.
REF PN2035 .H297 1998

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama: An International Reference Work in 5 Volumes / Stanley Hochman, editor in chief. 2nd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, c1984.
REF PN1625 .M3 1984 v.1-5

Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance / Edited by Dennis Kennedy. Oxford; NY: Oxford University Press, 2003
REF PN2035 .O94 2003 v. 1-2. See also the online version of Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance.

Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z: A Comprehensive, Descriptive Record of 813 Theatres Constructed Since 1724 / by Irvin R. Glazer. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986.
REF NA6830 .G58 1986.
A singular work on Philadelphia theaters, this includes a narrative chronology on the development of theaters in Philadelphia, followed by descriptions of 813 theaters, including movie theaters. See also Philadelphia Architects and Buildings

Selected Theatre Criticism / Edited by Anthony Slide. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1985-
REF PN2277.N5 S44 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.

The Crown Guide to the World's Great Plays: From Ancient Greece to Modern Times / by Joseph T. Shipley. Rev., updated ed. NY: Crown Publishers, c1984.
REF PN6112.5 .S45 1984

Handbook of Russian Literature. Edited by Victor Terras. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1985.
REF PG2940 .H29 1985

The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature. 2nd ed. Edited by M.C. Howatson. Oxford University Press, 1989.
REF PA31 .H69 1989


To find current theater reviews, consult Nexis Uni. Another great source for contemporary reviews is the New York Times; create your own free account today!

Literature Criticism Online

Literature Criticism Online is "the largest curated online collection of literary criticism in the world.” It brings together three literary criticism titles published by Gale:

Contemporary Literary Criticism

Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism

Drama Criticism

Available in print in the Greenfield Library is Contemporary Literary Criticism, also published by Gale Research.

Nineteenth-century literary criticism. Gale Research Co., 1981-.

REF PN761 .N56 v.1-95

Find Articles

Magazine and journal articles will always be the best place to look for current information on your topic. Periodical indexes are research tools that allow you to search for articles in journals and magazines.

Go to the library's Article Databases and Indexes page for a list of the UArts Libraries' subscription indexes. You can also use OneSearch from the library home page to search all types of materials.

Either way, start with a simple search to see how much you find, and then narrow it down, either by adding search words or using the filters on the left of your results page.

I've found articles I want to read. Now what?
There are different ways to find an article once you retrieve a citation in the index:

  • See if there is a link in the index you're using to a full-text article online and download it or e-mail it to yourself.

  • Check to see if our library holds the journal title. Look up the journal title or the ISSN*** in the catalog and look at the holdings.

    • ***What is an ISSN? ISSN stands for International Standard Serial Number and is a unique number for a magazine or journal (not individual articles, but the magazine/journal title itself). You can use it in the UArts Libraries catalog and in many periodical indexes and databases. Searching with a number is much more precise than typing out a long title.

  • Use interlibrary loan to request materials not owned by the UArts Libraries.

  • See what other libraries in the area hold the journal.

Style Manuals: Citing Your Sources

When you find information on a topic, no matter what format it takes (book, journal, Web page), there are style manuals to show you the correct way to give cite those sources in a paper.


Searching the Web can be overwhelming. If you are using the Internet for research you want to choose sites that meet the standards of accuracy, currency and authority.

Below are just a few theater-related sites that may be of interest to the University of the Arts community. Sites are usually selected for inclusion here because they have a lot of good links, so explore and look for that Web page's links.

"HowlRound is a story of artists and theater makers sharing dissonant opinions, engaging in in-depth dialogue, and promoting best practices with the hope of ensuring a vibrant future for our field. Our stories live in a theater commons—shared resources available to all." Content includes an online journal, a livestreaming TV network, new play map, Commons Producers studying playwright residencies, convenings & symposia, and The Weekly Howl. Follow @HowlRound or visit on

Costume Society of America
"The Costume Society of America advances the global understanding of all aspects of dress and appearance. We work to stimulate scholarship and encourage study in the rich and diverse field of costume."

Costumer's Manifesto
This Web site appears on just about every costume Web site's links.

Dramaturgical Research
Excellent and thorough site by Lori Ricigliano at the University of Puget Sound. If you're doing dramaturgy this is worth spending some time with.

Harvard Theatre Collection>
Excellent and thorough site by Lori Ricigliano at the University of Puget Sound. If you're doing dramaturgy this is worth spending some time with.

IDEA - The International Dialects of English Archive
Preparing for an audition or a role? Learning an accent? This is fun and free (but it is copyrighted).

International Costumers' Guild, Inc
Nice links:

Jack Wolcott's Theatre History on the Web

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Great library, great Web pages. Follow them on social media.

Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
TCG's mission: "To strengthen, nurture and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre... our programs further our core values of fostering connection, embracing diversity and supporting artistry in the American theatre. In all our endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of our member theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field, and promote a larger public understanding of and appreciation for the theatre." TCG publishes the magazine, American Theatre, plus various directories, plays and books. Note the link for Tools and Research.

Theatre Library Association, New York NY
"The Theatre Library Association is a non-profit, educational organization established in 1937 to promote the collection, preservation, and use of theatrical and performing arts materials. Membership includes librarians, scholars, curators, archivists, performers, writers, designers, historians, collectors, and students."

United States Institute for Theatre Technology
"Serving professionals and pre-professionals in design, production, and technology for the performing arts since 1960, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) is a place to network, exchange ideas, and grow."

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