Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Drama for Students
Gale Virtual Reference contains two good series that provide good thematic overviews of major plays. They are called Twenty-First Century Drama and Drama for Students. The easiest way to check your play is to do a search for your play title in their advanced search, and looks for entries in these two volumes.
Award lists can be one way to locate well-known 20th and 21st century plays.
Historical Context Reference Books
For orienting a play in history, sometimes you don't need a really deep source, and reference sources are a great option here (particularly when you are starting out!). Here are some good ones that will introduce you to the time period of your play. From here you can dig deeper into the particular events or issues that seem most relevant to the play.
Getting the Lay of the Land
Try searching the name of your play and author together as well as the playwright alone to see generally what kind of literature exists.
International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance with Full Text This link opens in a new window
Subject: Theatre, Dance
Content/Description: Contains annotated bibliographies linking to full-text documents for articles, reviews, books, and dissertation abstracts on global theatre and performance, created by the Theatre Research Data Center (TRDC) at Brooklyn College.
Use the library's "discovery layer" particularly to see other options for theatre reviews. In addition to local newspapers that might have reviews, the following theatre titles can be a good source of interviews, broader articles on contemporary playwrights and criticism: Theatre Journal, Variety, Backstage, American Theatre, The Village Voice (NY only)