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Theater Research Guide

Online Literary Collections

American Drama
Includes the full text of plays from 1715-1915.  The collection includes more than 1,500 plays by dramatists including Thomas Paine, Edward Hitchcock, and James Lawson, as well as such works as Thomas Godfrey's The Prince of Parthia, the first American play performed on an American stage and George Aiken's stage adaptation of Uncle Tom's Cabin, the most popular stage production of the nineteenth century.

Black Drama

Black Drama contains the full text of approximately 1,200 plays written from the mid-1800s to the present by more than 100 playwrights from North America, English-speaking Africa, the Caribbean, and other African diaspora countries. Many of the works are rare, hard-to-find, or out of print. Nearly a quarter of the collection will consist of previously unpublished plays by writers such as Langston Hughes, Ed Bullins, Willis Richardson, Femi Euba, Amiri Baraka, Randolph Edmonds, Zora Neale Hurston, and many others.

Digital Loeb Classical Library
The Digital Loeb Classical Library is an online version of the Loeb Classical Library series. This series offers introductions, texts, and translations of ancient Greek and Latin writings, making it a key resource for primary sources. There are more than 500 discrete volumes spanning from Homer (700 BCE) to Bede (700 CE). Most major classical authors are covered and new editions are added each year.

Drama Online
Drama Online is a collection of full text plays from ancient Greece to the present. In addition to the play texts, it includes scholarly annotations and special tools for study and performance such as Character Grids, Words and Speech graphs and Part Books. Besides the core collection of plays, it includes supplementary modules such as the Shakespeare’s Globe on Screen video collection and contemporary plays from Nick Hern.

Editions and Adaptations of Shakespeare

Eleven major editions from the First Folio to the Cambridge edition of 1863-6, twenty-four separate contemporary printings of individual plays, selected apocrypha and related works and more than one hundred adaptations, sequels and burlesques from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

English Drama
Contains approximately 4,000 plays by 1,200 authors from the late thirteenth century to the early twentieth century, including translations and adaptations of foreign-language plays by noted literary figures.

Project Gutenberg

Contains thousands of free, downloadable electronic books, mainly works or editions that have passed into the public domain, including many plays both in their original language and in translation. For foreign language plays, you may want to look for more recent translations in the library catalog.

North American Indian Drama
The database contains over 240 plays by 48 playwrights. Including a wealth of dramatic material, some of which was previously unpublished, overlooked, or inaccessible, this collection includes plays produced by the Native American Theatre Ensemble (NATE), Spiderwoman Theater, Toronto’s Native Earth Performing Arts, Seattle’s Red Eagle Soaring, and New York’s Coatlicue Theater Company.  The collection includes American Indian and First Nation playwrights from groups including Cherokee, Métis, Creek, Choctaw, Pembina Chippewa, Ojibway, Hawaiian/Samoan, Comanche, Cree, Navaho, and Rappahannock.

Shakespeare Collection: Brings together general reference data, full-text scholarly periodicals, reprinted criticism, primary source material, and the full-text annotated works from The Arden Shakespeare. Includes selections from Four Centuries of Shakespeare, the Prompt Book collections; The Gordon Crosse Theatrical Diary; the First Folio, key Quartos, and major editions and adaptations from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries; photographs, line drawings, maps; selected works by Shakespeare’s contemporaries; selected content from Shakespearean Criticism; and reference materials.

Twentieth-Century Drama

Contains over 1,900 plays from throughout the English-speaking world, covering the history of modern drama from the 1890s to the present. When complete, it will contain over 2,500 plays.

Other Online Collections

American Memory from The Library of Congress

This vast collection of digitized documents, photos and other materials from the Library of Congress constitutes an invaluable historical record of American artistic culture. Begin by searching under the category of Performing Arts, Music.