Theater and Dance Research Guide

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Try these databases first to find journal articles in this discipline.
  • Arts & Humanities Database
    Full-text publications that focus on art, architecture, design, history, philosophy, music, literature, theatre and cultural studies.
  • Performing Arts Periodicals Database (1864 to present)
    Covers a broad spectrum of the arts and entertainment industry - including dance, drama, theater, opera, film, television and more.
  • MLA International Bibliography (1926 to present)
    Covers critical scholarship on literature, language, linguistics, and folklore.
    Full-text backfiles of over two thousand leading academic journals across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. (Alumni access)
  • Project Muse
    Online database of more than 200 journals from nonprofit publishers. (Alumni access)
  • Music & Performing Arts
    Cross-searches audio, video, scores, and full-text reference content from all Alexander Street Press music databases.
  • Drama Online
    Full texts of plays from across the history of the theatre, ranging from Aeschylus to the present day.
  • Dance In Video
    Dance productions and documentaries by the most influential performers and companies of the 20th century
  • World Shakespeare Bibliography Online (1972 to present)
    Includes annotated entries for books, articles, reviews, productions, and more.

For more databases, use the subject filter on A-Z Databases


Use these encyclopedias and reference works to get started on a topic.

Print reference:
Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion by Valerie Steele  Frost Reference GT507 .E53 2005
The Dictionary of Fashion History by Valerie Cumming  Frost Reference GT507 .C86 2010


Find images and streaming audio and video in these collections (also see the Web tab in this guide and the Images Research Guide).
    Videos of full-length performances by contemporary artists working in dance, theater, music, and other performance forms.
  • RSC Live Collection
    Live productions from the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2013 to the present
  • Dance In Video
    Dance productions and documentaries by the most influential performers and companies of the 20th century
  • ARTstor
    Image database including architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, and design as well as many other forms of visual culture.
  • Ensemble [An Open Database of the Performing Arts]
    A database of transcriptions and digitized images of early 20th century theater programs collected by the NY Public Library of the Performing Arts.
  • 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.
  • Aluka
    Digital resources and data in three major content areas: African Cultural Heritage Sites and Landscapes, The African Plants Initiative and Struggles for Freedom in Southern Africa.
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Digital Archive
    Production photographs, programs and playbills, and other digitized media from the history of this performing arts venue.
  • Classical Performance In Video
    Video resources for the study of classical music, including full operas, dance titles, masterclasses, documentaries, scores and interviews
  • Music & Performing Arts
    Cross-searches audio, video, scores, and full-text reference content from all Alexander Street Press music databases.
  • Drama Online
    Full texts of plays from across the history of the theatre, ranging from Aeschylus to the present day.

Audio and Video sites:

The Chocolate Factory Theater on Vimeo
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive
Jerome Robbins Dance Division Moving Image Archive at NYPL
The Joyce Theater on YouTube
National Theater (London) video
New York Live Arts on Vimeo
PS122 TV
Walker Art Center Stage


Start with these recommended freely available resources in this discipline.

Online Databases and Exhibits:

Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library
Digital video library of performance practices in the Americas. Includes artist profiles,interviews, bibliographies, production information, image galleries, scripts, and additional materials.

Internet Broadway Database
Online database of Broadway production history

Performing Arts Database
Database of performing arts resources at the Library of Congress. Includes digitized photographs, manuscripts, correspondence and ephemera.

Theatre Communications Group Theater Profiles Database
Information about TCG member theaters, including locations and season/production information

PBS American Masters Database--Performing Arts
Biographical profiles, video clips of interviews, interactive career timelines, and interviews with artists

Performing Arts in America, 1875-1923
Database of 16,000 objects representing archival materials from the New York Performing Arts Library collections.

The Theatrical Lighting Database of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Digitized plots, focus charts, and cue sheets from landmark productions in the collections of the New York Public Library

Global Shakespeare (MIT)
The archive is a work in progress and currently includes a catalog of more than 397 productions, 75 video clips, and online videos of over 30 full productions.

New York Public Library Digital Collections
Digitized prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, streaming video, and more from NYPL collections, including performing arts holdings.

Global Performing Arts Database
Digital images, texts, video clips, sound recordings, and complex media objects related to the performing arts around the world

Kyoto Costume Institute timeline
Digital images and information about objects in the Kyoto Costume Instituite collections

Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute highlights
Digital images and information about objects in the Met's Costume Instituite collections

Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum collections
Digital images and information about objects from the FIT Musuem

Victoria & Albert Fashion Collections
Digital images and information about clothing in the Victoria & Albert Musuem

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses one of the worlds most extensive combination of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections in its field. These materials are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, and performances.

Billy Rose Theatre Division of the NYPL for the Performing Arts
The Billy Rose Theatre Division of The New York Public Library is one of the largest and most comprehensive archives devoted to the theatrical arts.

Theatre on Film and Tape Archive, NYPL Performing Arts
Since 1970, the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) has preserved live theatrical productions and documented the creative contributions of distinguished artists and legendary figures of the theatre. This is one of the only places you will be able to see taped performances of live theatre productions. Be sure to read the guidelines for using the collection.

Digital Public Library of America
A free, online portal to the digitized collections of various libraries, archives and museums.


Audio and Video sites:

The Chocolate Factory Theater on Vimeo
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive
Jerome Robbins Dance Division Moving Image Archive at NYPL
The Joyce Theater on YouTube
New York Live Arts on Vimeo
Performance Space New York (formerly PS122) video
Walker Art Center Stage

    Finding Plays

    Finding Plays in Print

    In the Five College Catalog enter the title of the play as a Keyword search in quotes, for example “cherry orchard” or "Topdog/Underdog". This will find the play as a standalone title and also within anthologies or collections.

    If you do not have a specific play in mind, you can perform an advanced search in the catalog for "drama" in the genre search (change the keyword search using the dropdown menu--see the example below) and select "book" under format. Note that the genre will be drama even if it is a comedic or other type of play. You can also try adding a subject of interest in the keyword search field, such as "families" or "college". This would also be the place to add "comedy". However, not all catalog records for plays have this additonal information.

    Example of an advanced search:

    example catalog search for plays


    There is also a large collection of playscripts in Archives and Special Collections (only available on-site during open hours). You can search for these in the catalog using the call number "Plays".

      New Titles

      The neurocognition of dance : mind, movement and motor skills Frost Library; GV1588 .N48 2019

      Movements of interweaving : dance and corporeality in times of travel and migration Frost Library; GV1595 .M85 2019

      Consuming dance : choreography and advertising (Dunagan, Colleen T., 1971- author.) Frost Library; GV1779 .D86 2018

      Group motion in practice : collective creation through dance movement improvisation (Herrmann, Brigitta, author.) Frost Library; GV1781.2 .H47 2018

      Jerome Robbins : a life in dance (Lesser, Wendy, author.) Frost Library; GV1785.R52 L47 2018

      Pina Bausch's dance theatre : tracing the evolution of Tanztheater (Weir, Lucy, author.) Frost Library; GV1786.T33 W45 2018

      Circus life : performing and laboring under America's big top shows, 1830-1920 (Childress, Micah, author.) Frost Library; GV1815 .C48 2018

      Interdisciplinarity in the performing arts : contemporary perspectives Frost Library; PN1584 .I48 2018

      Theatre & festivals (Zaiontz, Keren, author.) Frost Library; PN1590.F47 Z35 2018

      Seeming & being in Plato's rhetorical theory (Reames, Robin, author.) Frost Library; PN173 .R37 2018

      Pathos in late-Medieval religious drama and art : a communicative strategy (Mazzon, Gabriella, 1962-, author.) Frost Library; PN1751 .M39 2018

      Reading drama in Tudor England (Atkin, Tamara, 1981-, author.) Frost Library; PN1800 .A85 2018

      Performing trauma in Central Africa : shadows of empire (Edmondson, Laura, 1970-, author.) Frost Library; PN2041.W37 E36 2018

      Radical doubt : the joker system, after Boal (Schutzman, Mady, 1950-, author.) Frost Library; PN2049 .S355 2019

      Staged : show trials, political theater, and the aesthetics of judgment (Arjomand, Minou, author.) Frost Library; PN2051 .A75 2018

      Beyond method : Stella Adler and the male actor (Balcerzak, Scott, author.) Frost Library; PN2062 .B35 2018

      Forties and fifties fashion for the stage : patterns from vintage clothing (Parr, Jessica, author.) Frost Library; PN2067 .P275 2018

      The history and theory of environmental scenography (Aronson, Arnold, author.) Frost Library; PN2081.E58 A7 2018

      Performance and theatricality in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance Frost Library; PN2152 .P47 2018

      Event-space : theatre architecture and the historical avant-garde (Hannah, Dorita, author.) Frost Library; PN2193.E86 H36 2019

      The unfinished art of theater : avant-garde intellectuals in Mexico and Brazil (Townsend, Sarah J., author.) Frost Library; PN2193.E86 T69 2018

      Near-death experiences, and others (Gottlieb, Robert, 1931-, author.) Frost Library; PN2266.5 .G68 2018

      The American Negro Theatre and the long civil rights era (Shandell, Jonathan, author.) Frost Library; PN2277.N52 A44 2018

      Bruce Lee : a life (Polly, Matthew, author.) Frost Library; PN2287.L2897 P65 2018

      Marilyn Monroe : the private life of a public icon (Casillo, Charles, author.) Frost Library; PN2287.M69 C39 2018

      Translation and world literature Frost Library; PN241 .T733 2019

      Ideologicheskie konteksty russkoĭ kulʹtury XIX-XX vv. i poėtika perevoda Frost Library; PN241.5.R8 I34 2017

      Racism and early blackface comic traditions : from the old world to the new (Hornback, Robert, author.) Frost Library; PN2570 .H67 2018

      The Cambridge companion to medieval English theatre (Beadle, Richard, editor.) Frost Library; PN2587 .C36 2008

      Stage rights! : the actresses' franchise league, activism and politics 1908-58 (Paxton, Naomi, author.) Frost Library; PN2595.13.W65 P39 2018

      Gaming the stage : playable media and the rise of English commercial theater (Bloom, Gina, author.) Frost Library; PN2596.L6 B575 2018

      Professor at large : the Cornell years (Cleese, John, author.) Frost Library; PN2598.C47 A5 2018

      Russian performances : word, object, action Frost Library; PN2721 .R77 2018

      Russian Futurist theatre : theory and practice (Leach, Robert, 1942-, author.) Frost Library; PN2724 .L43 2018

      Public women in British India : icons and the urban stage (Bhattacharya, Rimli, author.) Frost Library; PN2886.C3 B43 2018

      Contemporary Mormon pageantry : seeking after the dead (Jones, Megan Sanborn, author.) Frost Library; PN3209 .J66 2018