Plays in Play: The Ensemble and the Playwright

Listed in: Theater and Dance, as THDA-242Ronald Dean Bashford

Questions about this guide? Contact


This is a legacy resource guide for a past course. Please email Sara Smith with questions about these resources or research in this subject area.

Click through each of the tabs above to see various types of reference, database, and web resources.


  • Search the catalog for biographies of playwrights or critical editions of plays (look for words like authoritative text, context, criticism).
  • For production/performance histories, you can look for reviews (in newspapers, magazines, journals) or primary sources that document the performance (like playbills, promptbooks, images).
  • The Wayback Machine can also be helpful if you need to go back to a theater company's website at an earlier point in time.
  • Besides films or recordings found in library catalogs, you'll want to look for parodies or adaptations on YouTube, Vimeo, or elsewhere on the internet.

When searching in the Five College Catalog for books or playscripts, you may find it helpful to collect and search Subjects. Some examples:

Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich, 1860-1904
Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich, 1860-1904 -- Stage history
Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich, 1860-1904 -- Adaptations
Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich, 1860-1904 -- Film adaptations
Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich, 1860-1904. Vishnevyĭ sad.
LinkRussia -- Social conditions -- Drama.
Theater -- Production and direction.
Theater -- Reviews.


    Print Reference:

    The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre. AC ref. PN1861 .W67 1994
    Modern Drama: A Checklist of Critical Literature on 20th Century Plays. PN1851 .A34 1967
    Dramatic Criticism Index: a bibliography of commentaries on playwrights from Ibsen to the avant-garde. AC ref. PN1861.B74 1972
    American Decades. AC ref. E169. 12 .A419
    American playwrights, 1880-1945: a research and production sourcebook. AC ref. PS351 .A52 1995
    American Drama Criticism; interpretations, 1890-1965. AC ref. PS332 .P35 1967
    The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy. PN2053 .R78 2015
    Dramaturgy in American Theater: a source book. AC ref. PN2053 .D66
    The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World. AC ref. D205 .O94 2008
    The New York Times Directory of the Theater. (AKA New York Times Theater Reviews, 1920-1970). AC ref. xPN1707 .N48 1973

    Primary Sources

    • Oxford Art Online
      Oxford Art Online is the access point for Grove Art Online, and other Oxford art reference works covering all forms of the visual arts: painting, sculpture, architecture, graphic and decorative arts, and photography from prehistory to the present.
    • ARTstor
      Image database including architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, and design as well as many other forms of visual culture.
    • Digital Public Library of America
      catalog of public domain and openly licensed images and other digitized materials from archives, libraries, museums, and other U.S. cultural heritage institutions
    • UbuWeb
      Large web-based educational resource for avant-garde material.
    • Kanopy Streaming Video
      Kanopy offers a broad selection of thousands of streaming films, documentaries, and theatrical releases covering a wide variety of subject areas, with additional new releases launched monthly. If close-captioning is not included, it can be requested. Interactive transcripts are included. Note that US feature films are not typically part of the Kanopy offerings.
    • Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO) (1780-1925)
      Full-text, searchable content from a broad range of 19th-century sources in literature, politics, theater, music, religion, maps, science, and childhood
      Videos of full-length performances by contemporary artists working in dance, theater, music, and other performance forms.