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Drama: DRAMA 40B - Drama History II (Stephanie Lim)

Starting points for research in drama

Basic Play Presentation Resources

Let's find information for successful presentations!

Playwright and Play Information

  • Gale Literature Criticism
    • Playwright - Search for the playwright using a PERSON SEARCH and then limit to BIOGRAPHIES using the options underneath the search box.
    • Play - Search for the play using a WORKS SEARCH and then limit to TOPIC & WORK OVERVIEWS using the options underneath the search box.

Genre Information

  • Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre & Performance
    • Great source of information for defining and tracing genres (e.g., comedy, melodrama, tragedy AND sub-genres like middle comedy, nautical melodrama, revenge tragedy, etc.) and major historical figures.
    • Be sure to search for your genre in the search box on the left side of the page (you might need to scroll down a bit). This box searches in THIS encyclopedia. If you use the box at the top it will search in ALL of the encyclopedias (the vast majority of which will only muddle your results).

Historical Happenings/Time Period

  • The People's Chronology (ebook)
    • Search for the year and several years prior to the play's writing to learn about major events (political, social, artistic, technological, etc.) in the world that may have impacted the playwright.
  • Country Encyclopedias
    • Country-specific encyclopedias can be an excellent source of information to understand the history of a particular place. Use the following general help to locate them:
    • Advanced search in Library Search
      • Search only in the Library Catalog
      • Change the drop down field to "SUBJECT"
      • Search for [NAME OF COUNTRY] AND encyclopedias
        • Example: Japan AND encyclopedias


  • Browse by LCSH in Library Search to locate books that provide historical information about the society and culture of the playwright and/or the play's setting.
    • General search: [Name of country] Social Life and Customs
      • Example: England Social Life and Customs
    • General search: [Name of country] Civilization
      • Example: England Civilization

  • Countries and their Cultures (ebook) provides modern information about societies and cultures around the world. 
    • Search for the country/culture that you are thinking about resetting the play in.

Play Reception/Influence on Culture

It can be difficult to ascertain what people originally thought of a play that was premiered centuries ago. The most common way to find this information is to locate newspaper reviews. UCI Libraries provides digital access to many major historical newspapers from around the world. You'll be best served if you choose a newspaper that is from the country and was actively being published where/when the premiere occurred. A few especially helpful resources might be: