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Theatre: Books on Theatre

This guide covers resources for the study of drama and theatre at OSU, including how to find plays and reviews

Books on Theatre and Finding Plays/Scripts

Books and essay collections in books are often very useful for finding broad historical analysis and criticism on dramatic genres, national theatre in different countries, plays, playwrights, theatrical performances, stagecraft, costuming, technical aspects, and other related topics..

Most books of theatrical criticism will be in the 792 call number range on the 4th floor of the Edmon Low Library (791 is film, and musical theatre will be in the music section, 780s). 

Plays and scripts are located in the drama (literature) call number range of the 800s:  American plays, 812s; British plays, 822s; Shakespeare, 822.33; etc.  In those call number ranges you can browse alphabetically by the playwright's last name (the second part of the call number will start with the first letter of the author's name followed by a numeric code.  Fro example, plays by the British playwright Caryl Churchill will start 822 C586).

To find plays in anthologies, you can search the playwright's name by keyword (the contents are generally included in the "Notes" section).  There is a free database, Inter-Play, to search for plays in anthologies or collection by author and title, but you will need to check whether OSU owns the particular anthology by searching the title of the collection.

You can also do keyword searches for "monologues," etc., to find excerpts from plays for dramatic readings or performances.

Finding Books on Theatre

The Library of Congress has several subject headings for theatre which you can use in keyword searches.  You can enter the word (without dashes) in library search; many subject headings include geographical location and time period.  LC subject headings use the "theater" spelling.  Some of the headings for theatre history include

Theater—Europe—17th Century

Theater and Society



NOTE:  Use the * or ? truncation symbol when use the keyword theat* in library search (this will bring up both the American spelling "theater" and the British spelling "theatre").

Subject headings also often use "Drama" and sub-headings for period and history/criticism (Drama18th Century—History and Criticism). Other subject headings have a similar construction, for example, Costume—History—16th Century.

Below is an example of a search in library search for books on Japanese theatre. When you are looking at the results, Details gives the bibliographic information on the book, including subject headings, Get It tells you if it is checked out or on the shelf--Item in Place.  E-books can be accessed by clicking on Online access (which gives you the link to the electronic resource).

Library Search Page for Japanese Theatre indicating advanced search options.


Image of book returned in library search indicating 'get it' option on left side of screen.




WorldCat (for books or media, not articles) is a catalog database of library holdings worldwide.  Use it to search for books NOT necessarily at the OSU Library.  Use the "Borrow from another library" link when viewing a book/media record to access the Interlibary Services loan form to request the book from other libraries; that service is free to OSU students, faculty, and staff, but the other library determines how long you can keep the item.