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How to find . . .: theatre reviews

Sources for texts, reviews, and criticism of theatrical productions

This is an annotated list of sources in the Reference Collection of the Paul Meek Library which index plays, drama criticism, and reviews of plays. It is not a listing of the library's complete holdings in these areas, but a selection of what are considered to be among the best of standard reference works of their type. 

Play reviews and criticism

Contemporary Plays, 1983-
Reviews of contemporary plays and revivals of older plays as well as post-1983 literary criticism of such works are indexed electronically as well as in paper sources. The electronic indexes are discussed on pages 1 and 2 of this bibliography.


Major Modern Dramatists, 2 vols. 1984. (Ref. PN 1861 .M27 1984).
Major dramatists, from Ibsen to the present, are included in this critical survey. Only western dramatists are included, however. Each entry for a playwright seeks to give an overview of the author's critical reception from the beginning of his career up to the present time. Excerpts are drawn from reviews, articles, and books, in English and other languages. Excerpts from foreign language sources are translated into English expressly for this set and are indicated by asterisks.


1,300 Critical Evaluations of Selected Novels and Plays, 4 vols. 1978. (Ref. PN 44 .M344 1978).
Critical commentaries and evaluations of works culled from MAGILL'S MASTER- PLOTS. The critiques are more extensive than those found in MASTER-PLOTS, usually running to two pages or more, and many of the essays are signed.


How to Locate Reviews of Plays and Films: A Bibliography of Criticism from the Beginnings to the Present. 1976. (Ref. Z 5781 .S19).
This title contains a chronology of study guides to the theatre by historical period. It also has sections containing entries for review indexing services, newspaper indexes, dramatic criticism checklists, the collected reviews of individual critics, leading theatre periodicals from the 19th century to the present, and a listing of play synopses. All of the entries also have annotations ranging from one to several sentences in length.


American Drama Criticism: Interpretations, 1890-1977. 1979. (Ref. Z 1231 .D7 .P3 1979).
A listing of interpretations of American plays, primarily. The sole criterion for a review of criticism being included in this index was that it could be found in a particular book or periodical. The literary merit of a play was not a consideration. This book is a particularly good source for locating reviews of plays whose popularity has waned.


Modern Drama Scholarship and Criticism, 1966-1980: An International Bibliography. 1986. (Ref. Z 5781 .C37X 1986).
A classified, selective list of publications on world drama since Ibsen. Included in the bibliography are articles, books, parts of books, and reference works. The bibliography is limited to Roman alphabet languages, but its scope is world-wide. The section on non-western drama, however, is very small. The orientation of the bibliography is on drama and dramatists from a literary point of view. Reviews of plays are not included. From 1981 to the present, this bibliography is supplemented annually in the June issue of MODERN DRAMA (see the Periodicals File for holdings and location).


Modern Drama: A Checklist of Critical Literature. 1967. (Ref. Z 5781 .A35).
A selective survey of the critical literature of 20th century drama. It is a collection of drama criticism and reviews of plays. The references included are listed because of their high quality, or because they were the only references available at the time of publication.


Dramatic Criticism Index: A Bibliography of Commentaries on Playwrights from Ibsen to the Avant-Garde. 1972. (Ref. Z 5781 .B8).
A selective index to criticism.


Chicorel Theatre Index to Drama Literature. 1975. (Ref. Z 5781 .C484).

Indexes such topics as criticism, Black Theatre, comedy, etc.


Drama Criticism. 2 Vols. 1967, 1971. (Ref. Z 5781 .C65).
Volume one is a checklist of British and American drama criticism appearing in books and periodicals published between 1940 and 1964. Volume two is a checklist of criticism, in English, published between 1940 and 1969 on classical and continental European drama.


European Drama Criticism, 1900-1975. 1977. (Ref. Z 5781 .P2 1977).
A source book of selections of critical writings on representative European plays. The criticism indexed appeared in English and non-English language books and periodicals between 1900 and 1975. The entries are indexed by play title and playwright.


Guide to Critical Reviews: Part I: American Drama, 1909-1982. 3rd ed. 1984 (Ref. Z 5782 .S34 pt. 1).
Includes reviews of over 2,000 plays by 350 dramatists. All of the reviews cited in this volume appeared in American or Canadian periodicals. An earlier edition of A GUIDE TO CRITICAL REVIEWS will be found under the following classification: REF. Z 5782 .S342 pt. 1.

Online sources

OPAC Subject Headings for Drama, Musical Comedy, etc.

The best term to use when searching for information on theatrical productions is "Drama". Under this subject heading there are over 450 sub-headings, including "History and Criticism". So, if one is seeking general works of criticism or explication, select "S" from the menu for "Subject", then type "Drama" and enter. The general subject Drama will appear followed by an alphabetical listing of sub-headings. This list can be scrolled through until the desired subject is located. After finding the subject heading, select the number tagged to the heading. One or more titles on the subject selected should appear on the result screen. For musicals or musical comedy, type and enter either one of those terms.


Locating Texts, Criticism, and Interpretations of Specific Works.
To find materials on a particular play or drama, enter the title of the work as a subject. For example, if the play "Death of a Salesman" is entered a list of books will appear. In this listing there are books containing the text of the play itself and others which are about the play and may include interpretation and criticism. If the complete title of a work is not known, select "U" (Words in Subject) from the menu and enter a few keywords from the title of the play. Another option from the menu is "W" (Words in the Title). This option is good for locating texts, criticism, and interpretations in anthologies. A literary work can also be searched by title. Select "T" from the menu and type and enter the title. Again, a list of books will appear, some of which will be texts of the play or videos of a stage or movie production. If the author of work is known, select "A" (Author) from the menu and type the author's name, e.g. "Miller, Arthur", and enter. This will bring up a list of works by that author available in the Paul Meek Library. If none of the options above provide the needed information, seek assistance at the Reference Desk.


Locating Recent Journal Articles on Specific Works.
Recent articles on specific dramatic works or reviews of recent theatrical productions can be searched electronically by using the following online databases:


This database is the online version of the Humanities Index (REF. AI 3 .H85x). The Humanities Index indexes articles published in scholarly or professional journals in the humanities. HumanitiesAbs begins its coverage in 1983 and includes abstracts (the years prior to 1983 are covered by the print index noted in the previous sentence). In the Paul Meek Library HumanitiesAbs is accessed through FirstSearch, which in turn can be accessed from the Library's Home Page by clicking on "Electronic Resources". When the Electronic Resources page comes up, scroll down to the FirstSearch logo and click on that. When the FirstSearch screen comes up, click on "Arts & Humanities", a list of databases will come up. From that list select HumanitiesAbs and enter. To connect toFirstSearch without a mouse, go to the main menu on the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC). From that menu select "B" (Connect to Another Library) and enter. A list of libraries will appear. From that list select FirstSearch and log on. When theFirstSearch list of databases comes up select "Arts & Humanities" and from that list select HumanitiesAbs.

Once in HumanitiesAbs, searches can be done by author, title, and subject.

Periodical Abstracts (PABS). Index with Abstracts from 1986 to Current.

This database indexes and abstracts articles appearing in over 1,600 serial publications, ranging popular magazines to professional journals. Each citation in PABS includes information on the Paul Meek Library's holdings of the publication cited.PABS' begins indexing with the year 1986 and continues through the current month.

To access PABS, select "F" from the main menu, this will bring up the PABS menu. From the PABS menu select "W" (Words in Title and Subject). When the search screen appears, type and enter several keywords from any subject or title. This should bring up a number of references which may include criticism and reviews. The Paul Meek Library can also access in full-text many of the journals indexed by PABS, see below.


Full-text Databases Available in the Paul Meek Library.
Many of the journals indexed and abstracted by PABS (see above) can be accessed in full-text by using ProQuest Direct, a database available through the Internet. Anyone can be instructed in the use of this database on request by asking at the Reference Desk. Classes can be scheduled for group instruction by calling the Public Services Librarian (881-7092) or the Reference Dept. (881-7065).

Play texts (print)

Ottemiller's Index to Plays in Collections: An Author and Title Index to Plays Appearing in Collections Published between 1900 and 1985. (REF. Z5781 .O8 1988).

An index to plays in anthologies. Drama titles from the classics to contemporary popular are indexed.


Play Index. 1949 - 1992. (REF. Z 5781 .P53).
PLAY INDEX indexes all types of plays, including radio, television, and one-act plays. Authors, titles and subjects are combined into one index. A "cast analysis", which indexes plays by the number of characters and by gender is included.


An Index to Plays in Periodicals. 1979. Supplement, 1990. (REF. Z 5781 .K43).
Very good for locating texts of plays that have been overlooked and one-act plays. Coverage is limited to plays appearing in periodicals and journals. Non-English periodicals and plays are included.


Drury's Guide to Best Plays. Fourth Edition, 1987. (Ref. Z 5781 .D8 1987).
Entries are by author and each entry contains a synopsis of a play, the number and sex of cast, publisher, year of first publication and royalty fee. Indexing is by title, subject and cast. DRURY also contains lists of plays for high schools and amateur groups and the names and addresses of publishers of plays.


Chicorel Theatre Index to Plays in Anthologies, Periodicals, Discs. 2 vols. 1970. (Ref. Z 5781 .C485).
Indexes plays by author, title, collection or anthology title entry, and editor. Data included in each entry are: publisher, year first published, place of publication (if not an English language play), hard and paper bound editions, pagination and price. Plays can be searched by subject, but the subject headings or "indicators" are very broad.

Chicorel Theatre Index to Plays in Anthologies and Collections, 1970-1976. (Ref. Z 5781 .C4846).
Indexes plays not indexed in any of the volumes of the previous entry, or in the CHICOREL THEATRE INDEX TO PLAYS IN PERIODICALS (See next entry).


Chicorel Theatre Index to Plays in Periodicals. 1973. (Ref. Z 5781 .C487).
An index to playscripts in periodicals. The plays indexed range from ancient to modern. Indexing is by author, title, translator, adapter, and periodical. There is also a listing of plays under broad subject headings and a list of the periodicals indexed.


Index to One-Act Plays. 1924 and Supplements 1-5 (1932-1966). (Ref. Z 5781 .L83).
This set contains thousands of titles of one-act plays either written in or translated into English. The INDEX includes plays appearing in all types of publications and begins its coverage with the year 1900 and continues through 1964. The plays are indexed by author, title, and subject and there is also a listing of anthologies and collections and their contents.


Plays in Periodicals: An Index to English Language Scripts in Twentieth Century Journals. 1970. (Ref. Z 5781 .P3).
Indexes plays in periodicals published between 1900 and 1968. Indexing is by author, title, and cast. Plays translated into English are included.


The Drama Scholar's Index to Plays and Filmscripts: A Guide to Plays and Filmscripts in Selected Anthologies, Series, and Periodicals. 1980. 2 Vols. (Ref. Z 5781 .S17).
In this index, non-English language titles are indexed in their original and translated versions. Television and radio scripts are also indexed. Anthologies are included and their contents listed by author and title.


Index to Full-Length Plays. 1944-1964. (Ref. Z 5781 .T52).
The volume for the years 1944-1964 contains a single alphabetical index which incorporates authors, titles, and subjects. Some entries have short annotations.


Chicorel Index to Plays for Young People. 1976. (Ref. Z 5784 .C5 .C55).
Indexes plays in periodicals, anthologies, and collections. The main section of this index is an alphabetical index which combines entries for author, title, editor, translator, anthology, collection title, and periodical title. Entries for periodical titles include volume number, issue number, month and year, and a list of contents for each issue.


Opening Night on Broadway: A Critical Quote book of the Golden Era of the Musical Theatre, Oklahoma! (1942) to Fiddler on the Roof (1964). (Ref. ML 1711 .8 .N3 .S9 1990). 

A Guide to Critical Reviews: Part II: The Musical, 1909-1989, 3rd ed. 1991. (Ref. Z 5782 .S344 pt. 2). 
An index to reviews of over 2,100 musicals performed on the New York stage from 1909- 1984.