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Theatre & Drama: Background/Reference Sources 

The purpose of gathering background information is to help you understand your topic in more depth, or perhaps think about a different view or a subtopic that you had not previously considered.

Reference Books | Electronic Reference Resources

Using reference sources in the library’s Reference Collection can be very useful.

After looking at the titles that follow, you can use the reference collection to help you locate additional information on your topic in the circulating collection by searching for books listed in any bibliographies or works cited. You can also note the call number of a Reference book that is useful for your topic. Drop the REF and use the remaining initial letters and numbers as a guide to finding similar material that circulates.

For example, if you wanted to find circulating books similar to the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama, you would go to the third floor and browse the PN 1625 section.

Subject Specific Reference Books

Please come in and browse the reference collection to find these, and other titles.

General Encyclopedias : Plays and Literature : Dramatists and Directors
Dance : Fashion/Costume : Musical Theatre/Opera : Movies/Film
Directories and Sourcebooks : Bibliographies

General Encyclopedias

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama
REF. PN 1625 .M3 1984
Including many black-and-white illustrations, this five volume set contains lengthier, cross-referenced articles on many aspects of drama, including biographical information on playwrights, histories of theatre movements, theatre from different nations, play lists, and a glossary.
Acting: An International Encyclopedia
REF. PN 2035 .O84 2001
A "cross-cultural reference" that contains shorter articles for an immense variety of topics relating to theatre. They even explain the relation for things that you wouldn't think had any bearing on theatre- biographies, places, customs, theatre movements, traditions, props, etc...
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance
REF. PN 2035 .O94 2003
Including both Western and non-Western theatre and performances, in over 4,300 entries this reference encyclopedia covers all types of performance including those in playhouses, dance, opera, performance art, radio, film, television, rituals, carnivals, parades, the circus, and public executions along with concepts, theories, and critical approaches.. "Biographical entries cover the lives and work of major figures from the past and present: actors, playwrights, directors, designers, and critics. Innovative entries on cities and regions place erformance in its local social and political context.
Twentieth Century Theatre
REF. PN 2189 .L65
"Twentieth Century Theatre is intended to serve two purposes: to offer an overview of theatre activity in North Amrica and British Isles since 1900, and to provide a 'datefinder' for those who want to obtain capsule information about a particular theatre event, production, personality, or playhouse."

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Plays and Literature

The New York TImes Theater Reviews
REF. PN 1581 .N48
Arranged chronologically, the New York Times Theater Reviews reprints the newspaper's reviews of performances. We have volumes for 1870-1970. Indexes are available to help you locate information on specific plays.
Critical Survey of Drama
REF. PN 1625 .C68 2003
The Oxford Dictionary of Plays
REF. PN 1625 .P38 2005
"This volume sets out to provide useful information and brief commentaries on the 1,000 most significant plays of world theatre." Each alphabetically arranged entry includes the title, alternative titles, author, date of writing, date of first performance, first publication, and first translation into English, genre, setting, cast, and summary.
Banned Plays
REF. PN 2042 .S68 2004
This volume examines the censorship issues surrounding 125 plays written from 411 B.C. to the present. Arranged alphabetically, each entry contains the author, original date of production, characters, filmed versions, play summary, censorship history, and a bibliography for further reading.
1/2/3/4 For the Show: A Guide to Small-Cast One-Act Plays.
REF. PN 6120 .H46 1995
With a title and author index, genre glossary, 80 scrip analyses, source directory, and bibliography, "This guide should help anyone seeking a small-cast one-act play." The title index is divided up by number and gender of characters, making it very easy for example, to find a script requiring three male and one female character. Each play description in the author index also denotes how many characters of which gender are required.
A Companion to Shakespeare's Works
REF. PR 2976 .C572 2003
Essays written by scholars to discuss specific plays, ideas, concepts, interpretations, and genres of Shakespeare.

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Dramatists and Directors

Major Modern Dramatists.
REF. PN 1861 .M27
Organized by genre (and nationality) this two volume set focuses on major "Western" dramatists, determined by quality and talent, internatinal reputation, and the substantial availability of academic criticism. For each dramatist, we're presented with a list of plays along with reviews, articles, and books that present "an overview of the critical reception of the dramatist from the beginning of his career up to the present time."
The Great Stage Directors
REF. PN. 2205 .L44 1994
"The Great Stage Directors provides brief, alphabetically arranged descriptions of 100 stage directors through history. The coverage is international, altough the majority are American and British."
Contemporary Dramatists
REF. PR 737 .C57 1999
Arranged alphabetically, these entries for over 300 dramatists include basic bio information, a publications list, critical study bibliography, theatrical activities, and an essay about the dramatist.

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International Dictionary of Modern Dance
REF. GV 1585 .B46 1998
"Comprises more than 400 entries on all aspects of modern dance, ranging from biographical entries on dancers to essays on major movements and styles to overviews of the development of modern dance in countries around the world."
The Oxford Dictionary of Dance
REF. GV 1585 .C78 2000
Contains a range of articles designed to reflect the diverse scope of dance with information on a comprehensive range of topics.
The Encyclopedia of Dance and Ballet
REF. GV 1585 .E5
Arranged alphabetically and concerned with "dance raised to a theatrical level as a performing art in any of the media of the twentieth century," search this title for entries on people, places, movements, and ideas.
International Encyclopedia of Dance
REF. GV 1585 .I586 1998
This comprehensive six-volume set contains information on countries, people, movements, dance styles, etc... It was designed to "tell us about the many forms of body movement that are called dance." Every entry contans a bibliography.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of ballet
REF. GV 1585 .K63 1987
With short dictionary style entries, "It represents an attempt to cover the whole ballet scene, past and present, its personalities, works, companies, places of performance, and technical terms, with some consideration of modern dance, ethnic dance, and ballroom dance." It also includes entries for special cities, dramatists, and provides some bibliographical references.
The Dance Handbook
REF. GV 1601 .R63
Each of the 200 entries are broken into chapters by style and type of dance with each section containing entries for choreographers, companies, and dancers in alphabetical order.
Biographical Dictionary of Dance
REF. GV 1785 .A1 C58
"The more than 2,900 figures profiled in this book span the last four centuries of dance history in Europe and the Americas." If they were involved with dance before 1982, look them up in here for a paragraph to page length entry.

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Fashion and Costume

Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion
REF. GT 507 .E53 2005
The 640 essays in this three volume set include a wide range of entries ranging from specific topics to more general, conceptual articles. If it is about clothing, look it up in here.
The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Fashion and Fashion Designers
REF. GT 507 .O53 1998
Covering the period from around 1840 until the end of the 1990's, this dictionary contains short entries for fashion designers, fashions themselves, and types of clothing.
The Dictionary of Costume
REF. GT 507 .W5
Contains definitions of terms related to costume and clothing; for example- types of materials, pieces of clothing, accessories, hairstyles, etc...
History of Costume
REF. GT 510 .P35
Covers the history of clothing from the Ancient Greeks until 1900, with photographs and illustrations. At the end of the book there is a pattern drafts index with 43 designs.
Fashions of a Decade
REF. GT 596 .F374 2007
This eight volume set dedicates a volume to each decade from 1920 to 1990. With pictures, historical context, famous designers and people, each 64 page volume gives a brief overview of the fashion of the decade.

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Musical Theatre/Opera

Broadway: An Encyclopedic Guide to the History, People and Places of Times Square
REF. F 128.65 .T5 B56
Just like the title says, if it happened on Broadway near Times Square, it might be mentioned as an entry in this book. Contains some black and white photographs.
Complete Book of the American Musical Theatre
REF. ML 1711 E9
"This is the first reference book to gather together in one volume all the information a theatergoer might wish to have about the American musical theater, past and present: plots, production histories, stars, songs, composers, and writers. Here will be found a discussion of over 300 American musical producctions by more than 100 composers."
Broadway Musicals Show by Show
REF. ML 1711 .G735 1990
Arranged chronologically starting in 1866, this reference book "is a combination history, guide, fact book, and photograph album of the most memorable productions presented both on and off Broadway." Each of the 300 entries contains the title, music composer, lyrics and book writer, producer, director, cast, famous songs, New York run, and a short factual summary with the history of the play.
The World of Musical Comedy
REF. ML 1711 .G74 1984
Each of the thirty-one chapters profile the important creators and members of musical comedy with interviews, photographs, and impressive detail. A nice appendix at the end includes details about the musical productions mentioned in the book and a discography.
Broadway: An Encyclopedia
REF. ML 1711 .N3 B54 2003
"This A to Z resource covers Broadway's producers, writers, composers, lyricists, set designers, theaters, performers, and landmarks, providing a comprehensive history of the Great White Way." It also includes "both current and vintage black-and-white photographs of people and places."
A Chronology of American Musical Theater
REF. ML 1711.8 .N3 N67 2002
Assembles "a comprehensive picture of the popular American Musical Theatre as presented on first-class stages in New York City, from 2850 to the present [2002], seen through the details of its theatre programs. Selected productions from 1750-1850 are also included." Each entry includes show titles with variants, subtitles, cast, notes about production and program credits, and other information as presented in the programs.
The Hollywood Musical
REF. ML 2075 .T4
While the back half of the book includes selected filmograpies, indexed of important names, songs, and titles, the front half of this reference volume is comprised of 5 descriptive chapters explaining different aspects of Hollywood musical films.
Operas in One Act: A production guide
REF. MT 955 .S86 1997
"The purpose of this book is to provide assistance to anyone concerned with the selection of operas in one-act for production or simply ot provide general information pertaining to these works." Each entry includes: Libretto writer, duration, cast, instrumentation, piano accompaniment, style, setting, scenes, synopsis, production notes, premiere, and how to obtain the materials.
Encyclopedia of the Musical Film.
REF. PN 1995.9 .M86 G7
"This ready reference encyclopaedia contains succinct information regarding the musical screen's most prominent individuals, productions, and songs. Entries are included for musicals, actors, actresses, composers, lyracists, songs, and directors. Useful appendices include a discography, title changes, biographies, and Academy Awards received.
Hollywood Musicals Year By Year
REF. PN 1995.9 .M86 G74 1990
Arranged chronologically (as the title would imply) this volume covers major musical productions beginning with the Jazz Singer in 1927 up until 1989's The Little Mermaid. For each show, you'll find a history, synopsis, facts, photographs, important cast, famous songs, and also information about the director, producer, and choreographer if known.

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The Motion Picture Guide
REF. PN 1995 .N346
Reviews and rates thousands of American and foreign films with frank opinions.
Film as Literature, Literature as Film
REF. PN 1995.3 .R66 1987
"Intended for those interested in the relationship of film to literature, the bibliography, which lists almost 2500 articles and books published from 198 to 1985, demonstrates the durabiliy of interest in the comparison of film to drama, prose fiction, and poetry."
Forbidden Films: Censorship Histories of 125 Motion Pictures
REF. PN 1995.62 .S67 2001
Arranged alphabetically, this book contains 125 films, each with their vital details, a summary, and a censorship history. In it's own words, it "Analyzes representative films nd the means by which they have been suppressed in whole or in part by mechanisms that have varied over more than a century of film hstory."
The Rough Guide to Comedy.
REF. PN 1995.9 .C55 M385 2005
This compact reference title contains the history of the genre, a selected list of 50 must-see comedy films, bios of prolific directors and performers, great comedy duos, and comedy cinema from around the world.
The Rough Guide to Gangster Movies.
REF. PN 1995.9 .G3 H82 2005
Organized crime got you down?- check out this compact reference book explaining a selected list of 50 titles, icons of gangster film, the genre worldwide, the cars, guns, plots, soundtracks, magazines, and websites.
The Rough Guide to Horror Movies.
REF. PN 1995.9 .H6 J62 2005
The world's scariest films are the fodder for this compact reference book. Beginning with the history and origins of horror, this title goes on to include a cannon of 50 films selected by the author, explanations of the directors, actors, and monsters that make horror famous, horror around the world, and info. about websites, magazines, merch. and festivals.
Multicultural Films
REF. PN 1995.9 .M56 W45 2005
According to the author, this title "could easily be subtitled 'What Movies Tell Us about Race/Ethnicity in the United States.' It offers educators, librarians, students, and other film viewers brief synopses and critiques of a variety of motion pictures that take up, in one way or another, issues of race/ethnicity."
The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies.
REF. PN 1995.9 .S26 S33 2005
Face the final frontier with this compact reference book detailing the origins and icons of world sci-fi. This title also includes a listing of 50 essential sci-fi movies, descriptiosn of famous locations, directors, actors, characters, and monsters, plus everything you want to know about conventions, fans, websites, and magazines.
Women in Film: An International Guide
REF. PN 1995.9 .W6 W657
With a complete index and cross-referencing between the over 600 entries, this volume contains women's "contributions to the advancement of film as a medium." Biographical entries (such as the woman's accomplishments, filmography, and bibliography) is included along with entries for directors, writers, nationalties, movements, genres, festivals, and studios.
The Encyclopedia of Novels into Film
REF. PN 1997.85 .T54 2005
Fully indexed with entries arranged alphabetically under the title by which the novel was published, each entry begins with a listing of the films made from the novel, and moves on to a description and analysis of the novel itself and then for each film as well. A short bibliography of resources consulted is also included.

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Directories and Sourcebooks

Theatre Companies of the World
REF. PN 2052 .T48
Divided up geographically, this two volume set contains information about the different theatre companies around the world. Each entry gives addresses and descriptions of the company.
Stage Directors Handbook: Opportunities for Directors and Choreographers
REF. PN 2053 .S68 2006
A useful sourcebook for anyone wanting to be a professional director or choreographer, it contains chapters about training programs, career development opportunities, contact information for regional theatre opportunities, service organizations and unions, grants awards and fellowships, agents and attorneys, and working abroad. There is also a bibliography of books and other resources.
Dramatists Sourcebook: 2002-2003 Edition
REF. PN 2289 .D73 2002
Contact information providing opportunities for playwrights, translators, composers, lyricists, and librettists- including for scripts: the production, prizes, publication, and development; for career: agents, fellowships and grants, emergency funds, art agencies, colonies and residencies, membership and service orgainzations; and a listing of resources: publications, online resources, submission calendars, special intersts index, and book index.
The 2003 Entertainment Sourcebook
REF. PN 2289 .E58 2003
Beginning with a product index and then a company index to make locating the information easier, this reference guide contains the contact information for thousands of companies supplying everything you need for your performance.

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American Drama Criticism.
REF. PS 332 .P32 BOOK
Alphabetical by playwright then by play, provides citations for published critiques and criticism.
Black PLaywrights, 1823-1977: Annotated Bibliography of Plays.
REF. PS 338 .N4 H37 1977
American Women Playwrights, 1964-1989: A Research Guide and Annotated Bibliography.
REF. PS 338 .W6 G38 1993
American Playwrights Since 1945: A Guide to Scholarship, Criticism, and Performance.
REF. PS 350 .A53 1989
American Women Dramatists of the Twentieth Century.
REF. PS 351 .C68 1982
Arranged alphabetically by dramatist name, for each person there is a listing of citations for plays, biographies, criticism, and reviews.

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Ask a librarian at the Research Assistance Desk
for help in locating these sources.

Electronic Reference Sources: Movies and Music

Internet Movie Database
Provides a wide variety of search options including movie titles, cast/crew names, plot summaries and some reviews.
Movies and Oscars
Menu consists of listings of prominent categories in the Academy Awards (i.e. best picture, actor, actress, director). Includes winners and nominations in a given year, limited biographical information on people, photographs and complete filmographies. Movies listings include release dates, cast lists, reviews, press kits and promotional materials. Entire database searchable by name or film title.
All-Music Guide
Classical and popular music.
Dr. Estrella's Incredibly Abridged Dictionary of Composers
Brief biographies and lists of major works of composers, arranged by time period.
Opera history, summaries, reviews, international performance schedules and more.

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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL