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Arkansas State University

Theatre: Home

This guide is intended to help you find both print and online theatre resources.

Many types of resources are available to you through the Dean B. Ellis Library. This guide is only a starting point for your research, it is not meant to be a comprehensive list of resources. If you need further assistance, please visit the Service Desk in the library or contact your librarian, April Sheppard, at

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Scholarly and peer reviewed are your "academic" articles. These are the ones that deal directly with research, history, or theory. Most likely, your professor wants you to use these types of articles. These types of articles are written by scholars, experts in the field often associated with a university or an organization. Peer reviewed articles must also be approved by a group of scholars before being published to ensure that the research presented is factual and relevant. Not everyone can get peer reviewed.

Popular magazine articles are usually ones that you read for entertainment. These are usually the type of publications that you find at the grocery store checkout. Chances are if there's a celebrity on the cover, it's a popular magazine.

For a more in-depth look at the differences, please visit our Scholarly Journals guide.


All books in the library are arranged by subject using the Library of Congress classification system for call numbers and subject headings. The majority of call numbers for Theatre begin with "PN". The basic breakdown is as follows:

GR 420 - 426 - Costume, jewelry
GT 500 - 2370 - Costume. Dress. Fashion
MT 955 - 956 - Musical Theater
MT 960 - Music in the theater
NA 6820 - 6821 - Theater architecture
NK 4700 - 4890 - Costume
PN 2061 - 2071 - The monologue
PN 1551 - The dialogue
PN 1560 -1590 - The performing arts. Show business
PN 1600 - 3307 - Drama
PN 4001 - 4355 - Oratory. Elocution, etc.
PN 6110.5 - 6120 - Collections of general literature - Drama

The numbers that follow these beginning letters relate to the narrower scope of the item. For example: Theatre World (PN2277. N5 A17) focuses on general theatre while Plays for Young Audiences II (PN6119.9 .P52) focuses specifically on children's theatre.  

Occasionally, a totally different call number will appear. This means the item is about more than theatre and higher importance was given to the other subject when the call number was assigned.  For example: The Theater at Isthmia has a call number of NA285.I86 G42 R34 2005 because it is more about the history of architecture than it is theater arts.

Note: The library does not have a set area of plays -- these are mixed in with literature.  To find a particular play, search by play or author name.  If you do not have a particular author or play in mind, try adding "play" or "plays" to your search. 


Databases with green All Full Text or partially green Partial Full Text icons offer some level of free, full-text articles. In most cases, you must be affiliated with A-State to view the article or on the A-State campus. Some database offer a "pay-per-view" service where you can buy an article not available for free and have immediate access. If you do not need immediate access to the article, you may also request it through Interlibrary Loan for free. Articles requested through Interlibrary Loan can take 2-5 business days to come in, depending on the lending library. You can also digital scans from our physical collection through Digital Delivery.

To view all our Fine Arts databases, click here.

To view all our databases, click here.


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Theatre covers a wide range of topics. If you're having trouble coming up with a topic, here are some keywords you can use that might help you get started:

  • Acting
  • Broadway
  • Children's
  • Costume
  • Criticism
  • Design
  • Directing
  • Drama
  • Engagement
  • Lighting
  • Musical
  • Playwriting
  • Production
  • Scenery
  • Stagecraft
  • Theater
  • Theatre

If you want to combine keywords, use the connector AND between terms:

Children AND "musical theatre"

You can learn more about connectors in our Boolean Searching guide.


Both spellings are actually correct - it just depends on who your audience is and where you're from. It also depends on the author. Some scholars use -er and others use -re. Because of the prevalence of both spellings, it's important to make sure you search with both variations as you do your research.

You can do separate searches for each spelling or nest the terms together like so:

(theatre OR theater)

The OR tells the computer to search for either work and the parentheses () groups the words together.

You can even combine nesting with other Boolean connectors!

(theatre OR theater OR drama) AND children