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Theater and Drama: Finding Scripts

A guide to resources for finding plays, performance reviews, and criticism in theater and drama.

Databases for Plays, Scenes, & Monologues

New Play Exchange NPX is the world's largest digital library of scripts by living writers. It's particularly useful for its filtering features which allow one to search by playwright or character demographics including race, gender, sexual identity, and age. 

Ottemiller's Index to Plays in Collections (2011) covers English-language plays from 1900 to 1985, but excludes children's theater, one-act plays, and radio and television drama.

Humanities Abstracts can help you find more recent plays in periodicals. Search by title or author, using the "Document Type" setting: Drama (Text of Play).

Literature Online is a fantastic resource for the full text of classic works of English and American drama. Includes nearly every English play from 975 to 1700 and every American play from 1714 to 1915. A third incomplete collection, Twentieth-Century Drama, will cover 2,500 English-language plays from 1890 to the present.

The website for Dramatists Play Service is also useful for identifying published plays.

Finding Plays in the Library's Collection

To find a published play, look it up by author or title in the Dartmouth Library Catalog. Examples:

Chekhov, Anton

Churchill, Caryl

Death of a Salesman

Oedipus the King

Most published plays in English are found in the PR (for British, Irish, Canadian, Australian, and postcolonial writers) and PS (for American) Library of Congress call number ranges, on Stack Level 5 and Stack Level 6. Plays in other languages, and plays translated into English, will be shelved with other literatures in that language. Some older editions of plays may be found in the 800s of the Dewey call number range, located on Berry Level 3.


Many plays are not published separately as books, but in collections or periodicals. To find individual titles, use Play Index online or in the stacks.The physical version of Play Index lists plays published from 1949 to the most recent volume (1997) and the digital database covers these along with more recent plays. Coverage includes plays in collections and single plays, one-act plays, radio, television, and Broadway productions. Includes a subject index and a unique "cast analysis" feature that allows searching by plays with an all-female cast, plays with one male role and one female role, etc.

Rauner Special Collections Library has many first editions and rare books, as well as the Williams-Watson Theatre Collection.


Plays at Other Libraries

If the text of a play you need is not at Dartmouth, look it up in WorldCat, a union catalog containing over 34 million records, useful for identifying items not available in our library.

If you need a published play that is not in the Dartmouth College Library, look it up in the Borrow Direct catalog. Most items requested through Borrow Direct will be available within four working days.

If you need a play in a periodical that the Dartmouth College Library does not subscribe to, or if the published play you need is not available through Borrow Direct, request the item through Dartmouth's broader Interlibrary Loan service.