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Starting points for research in drama

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Some Strategies

Let's be honest here, selecting a season can be a difficult task. You need to think about casting issues like numbers of actors, ethnicity, age, etc.; possible design issues; a seasons's theme and what point you're trying to make with it; etc. To be able to do that you need to actually know what plays exist, their subjects, and their technical specifications, so you can figure out how to create your successful season.

This guide is intended to help you discover and explore the vast amounts of plays out there. Before you jump in you might want to think about a search strategy. Here are a few possible ones that might work for you (but like research, there's no single way to do this):

  • Start with a broad theme of representation in mind. For example, only wanting to program plays by women playwrights. This initial scope limiter will help you more quickly dive into repertoire that might possibly fit into your season.
  • Programming the musicals might be more difficult than the "straight" plays. You might think about two musicals that thematically work together and then locate plays that fit into that category.
  • Just because a play exists doesn't mean that you can easily find a copy of it or even locate significant information about it. You might do yourself a favor and limit yourself to plays you can get your hands on quickly through the Library or through one of the Library's resources.

A few possible starting points:

  • UCI Drama Library Tagpacker lists most of the plays added to the UCI Libraries since 2010. You can sort the plays by number of cast (including gender); playwright demographics like ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, and gender; major themes, etc. Each play listing includes a summary of the play, a link to the library's record, and a link to the Google Book preview if available.
  • Poke around in the Find Diverse Plays pages on this guide. These pages provide helpful information to find plays from underrepresented voices in the theatre world.
  • New Play Exchange is a great resource to discover plays AND to read (many of their) full text. Plays are uploaded and indexed by member-playwrights and can be searched in many different ways, such as the genre, subject matter, cast size, cast gender, cast ethnicity, cast age, if characters of color/women/or LGBTQ people are centered, playwright demographics, etc. It's pretty awesome! **NOTE: This resource is not yet fully licensed by UCI Libraries. As such, we are only receiving complimentary access. Our access could possibly be removed at any time since we haven't yet paid for this**
  • The Critical Survey of Drama book set is an AMAZING overview of dramatic genres, playwrights, and history. There are seven volumes, but the most important to start your work are the first and seventh. The first volume includes concise (4-5 page) entries on genres like African American, Latinx, LGBTQ+ theatre, and many others. These are good sources to discover important people and plays in that area. The seventh volume, starting on page 4134, has categorized hundreds of playwrights into themes such as "comedy of manners," "homosexual culture," and "realism."

Discover Plays (of particular categories)

Many play anthologies can be found on the fourth floor of Langson Library. Many (but not all) will be found in the PS628 call number area.