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Drama & Theatre Research Guide

About Books

The Library holds many different kinds of books pertaining to drama and theatre. You might find:

  • Handbooks and guides covering various aspects of theatrical production (including acting, lighting, stage management, costuming, etc.)
  • Historical and critical information, both on genres and specific works
  • Collections of plays and monologues
  • Images of theatrical productions

Different kinds of books might be relevant to you at different times, so think about what you need. Don't hesitate to ask for help!

Searching for Books

When you are searching for books, you will usually use one of two options:

Subject Headings

Subject headings are words that are used to describe what the books are about. There are two important things to remember about subject headings:

  • They are consistent throughout the catalog ("Experimental theater" should bring up all the books on experimental theater)
  • They are relatively predictable

Finding the right subject heading can make searching much easier. Here are some headings that are relevant to drama and theater:

  • Acting
  • American drama -- History and criticism
  • Costume design
  • Drama
  • Drama -- Dictionaries
  • Drama -- History and criticism
  • Dramatists -- Biography
  • Experimental theater
  • Improvisation (Acting)
  • Method (Acting)
  • Monologues
  • Musicals -- Production and direction
  • Performing arts -- Reviews -- Index
  • Playwriting
  • Stage lighting
  • Stage management
  • Theater -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • Theater -- Production and direction
  • Theaters -- Stage-setting and scenery
  • Theatrical makeup

Searching in the ways I've recommended above will bring up an alphabetical list of subject headings. As you can see, each heading is broken down into smaller subjects, so the alphabetical list can be quite useful.

Notice that the subject headings use Theaternot Theatre, and that Theaters is a separate heading (it refers specifically to the buildings). 

More Search Tips

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias are excellent places to begin your research. There are some related to specific dance styles as well as dance in general. 

Example Subject Heading: Ballet -- Dictionaries.

If you are searching for biographies or information about a specific person, try a subject search for that person's last name.

Example Subject Heading: Shepard, Sam.

If you are interested in theater in a specific country or area, and that country's name to the heading "Theater."

Example Subject Headings: Theater -- Japan -- History

Theater -- New York (State) -- New York -- Dictionaries

There are also subject headings referring to the theater of specific groups. These are harder to guess, so you may want to use the "Subject Keyword" search.

Example Subject Headings: African American theater

Women in the theater

Call Numbers

Books on similar subjects are grouped together in the library. Call numbers are used to locate books on the shelf and identify them by subject. Here are some call numbers that may be of interest:

  • GT 500-2370            Costume. Dress. Fashion. 
  • PN 1560 - 1590        Performing arts. Show business. General and special topics
  • PN 1600 - 1988        Drama
  • PN 2000 - 3307        Dramatic presentation. The theater
  • PN 2053                    Production and direction
  • PN 2061 - 2080        Art of acting, including costuming, makeup and gesture
  • PN 2080                    Monologues
  • PN 2085 - 2096        The stage and accessories
  • PN 2100 - 2219        Theater: History and criticism by historical period. 

Books in the TTs focus on handicrafts (furniture building, sewing, etc) and are often of interest for technical theater. 

If you are looking for monologues, you may also wish to check our E-Reserves page.