Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. "A scene from "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf."" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1976.
New York Theatre
Welcome! This page supports research methods for New York Theatre. For tools and techniques for conducting research in theatre, please consult the appropriate research guide.
If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.
Newspapers are a great way to find interviews with theatre managers or directors, as well as to find reviews about a historical production. For dates before 2012, use ProQuest Historical Newspapers. For more recent productions, use ProQuest Direct.
ProQuest Direct is the best database for the most current newspaper and magazine articles, as well as scholarly journal articles. Select "newspapers" from the document type to exclude scholarly articles.
ProQuest Historical Newspapers offers full-text and full-image articles from major American newspapers, including the New York Times, New York Tribune, and Wall Street Journal among others. Locate the review of a production and then click/flip through the pages of the publication to identify relevant historical and cultural events.
Databases are going to be the best place to find scholarly articles as well as theatre trade journals and magazines.
Alternative Press Index: More than 300 alternative, radical, and left journals, newspapers, and magazines and includes selected abstracts from research journals. Indexes journals covering cultural, economic, political, and social change. Coverage is international and interdisciplinary.
International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance is a research tool of international scope providing citations, abstracts, and some full text for journal articles, books, book chapters, and dissertations on all aspects of theater, dance, and the performing arts. Includes selective pre-1982 coverage.
Performing Arts Periodicals Index (formerly International Index to Performing Arts) is a multidisciplinary index to the performing arts. Contains indexing from more than 395 journal titles – over 160 of which are available in full text - including American Theatre, Dance Chronicle, Dance Teacher, Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, Opera News and more. Narrow by date range as well as by document type. Limit the document type: e.g. "Performance Review," "Music Review," or "Recording Review" to exclude scholarly articles.
Variety Archives (1906-present) contains digitized articles of the Variety entertainment magazine, allowing archive users to trace the history of the entertainment business and its players. Weekly Variety, starting from 1906, and Daily Variety, starting from 1933, are both available up to the prior week. The database has a search function with date ranges in addition to terms and keywords which helps archive users find articles, advertisements and images.
Internet Broadway Database (IBDB) was created by the Research Department of The Broadway League, the national trade association for Broadway. IBDB provides a comprehensive database of shows produced on Broadway, including all "title page" information about each production. IBDB also offers historical information about theatres and various statistics and fun facts related to Broadway
Internet Off-Broadway Database (Lortel Archives) The Lucille Lortel Archives produce the IOBDB. They contain complete Off-Broadway seasons dating back to 1958. As of March 2012, over 6,000 shows have been entered. For this archive, Off-Broadway refers to any production that has satisfied the following requirements: "Played at a Manhattan theatre with a seating capacity of 100-499, intended to run a closed-ended or open-ended schedule of performances of more than one week, and offered itself to critics and general audiences alike."
Playbill Vault is an online database of Broadway theatre productions, personnel, Playbills, photos and box office data created and operated by Playbill.It provides records of Broadway productions from 1930 to the present. Information on the website includes original and current casts, actor head shots, production credits, Playbill cover images, scanned Playbill Who's Who pages, production photos and videos.
The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the internet, consisting of browsable snapshots of over 240 billion URLs. This is an ideal way to find historical production information about a company or group. Use the "Save Page Now" feature to capture a website as it appears now for use as a trusted citation in the future.
Foundation Center 990 Finder provides an access point to look up publicly stored tax records of non-profits, especially useful for seeing more detailed information on the finances of a theater or theater organization. You can normally see the past three years of an organization's taxes. Keep in mind the most recent tax information will probably be from 2014.
You won't need all of the information on a 990, you'll mostly be looking at revenue, expenses, employees, gifts and grants, programs, board members, and so on.These two pages have useful information on decoding the 990 forms.
- "Demystifying the 990-PF: Understanding the information return U.S. private foundations file with the Internal Revenue Service." Foundation Center. 2016, http://foundationcenter.org/find-funding/demystifying-the-990-pf
- Swords, Peter. "How to Read the New IRS Form 990." Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York. 2011, https://www.npccny.org/new990/
Advanced Google Search. Use this to search within a website. You can limit to a particular website or domain in the "site or domain" field. For example, try the word "grant" along with the name of the organization to see if they received money from a grant.
- Enter .edu to look at school websites - especially helpful for finding programs with theatres and schools.
- Enter .org to look at non-profit organizations, like the Mellon, Carnegie, and Shubert foundations that often provide arts grants.
- Enter .gov to explore US Government websites, such as the National Endowment for the Arts.
Interviewing someone associated with a theatre or organization can be very useful, but it's improtant to prepare. The Purdue Online Writing Lab has a helpful page on how to prep for and conduct an interview. Research already existing interviews with this person, so you don't repeat questions that are easily found - you want to be cognizant of their time.
The NYPL Catalog searches the circulating and non-circulating research collections at the New York Public Library's Library for the Performing Arts at the Lincoln Center, including those at the Billy Rose Theatre Division and the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT). The TOFT has many archival videos of New York theatre productions that can be viewed at the Library for the Performing Arts by researchers with an appointment.
How to Cite
Theatre research resources can come in a variety of types, so you may find yourself citing something that's a bit unusual. Here are some helpful examples, links, and tips. The following examples all refer to the MLA style, as that is commonly used for Humanities and Arts citation. If you're ever unsure, ask a librarian.
To cite an interview you conducted, give the name of the interviewee, the kind of interview (e.g. personal, telephone, email, etc), and the date.
Miranda, Lin Manuel. Personal interview. 22 July 2016.
To cite a published interview, use the name of the interviewee, title of interview (if part of a publication or recording, use quotes; if independent, italicize the title; if untitled, use the label Interview but not italicized or in quotes), and finish with the appropriate bibliographic information and medium.
Blanchett, Cate. "In Character with: Cate Blanchett." Notes on a Scandal. Dir. Richard Eyre. Fox Searchlight, 2006. DVD
Gordimer, Nadine. Interview. New York Times 10 Oct. 1991, late ed.: C25. Print
For a live performance, use this format - Title of Performance. By Firstname Lastname. Dir. Firstname Lastname. Perf. Firstname Lastname/s. Theatre/venue, Place. Date of Performance. Performance.
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. By Dave Malloy. Dir. Rachel Chavkin. Imperial Theatre, New York. 17 Nov. 2016. Performance.
If you're citing the contribution of a particular individual within a performance, begin with that name.
Chimo, Tracee, perf. Noises Off. By Michael Frayn. Music by Todd Almond. Dir. Jeremy Herrin. Roundabout Theatre Company. Amer. Airlines Theatre, New York. 14 Jan. 2016. Performance.
CiteSource from Trinity College has examples on citing in-person interviews, live performances, tweets, websites, and more.
The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has more traditional and extensive citation information.
When to Cite
You should cite in order to both provide credit where it's due, and also to allow those reading your work to find the same original source material. The Purdue OWL has a helpful guide here. Columbia College's guide to citing sources is also usefl, and pasted below:
"When to Cite Sources." Academics, Columbia College, 2016, https://www.college.columbia.edu/academics/whentocite
You must cite all sources that have directly or indirectly contributed to your analysis, synthesis, and/or argument in the work you submit.
You should quote your sources when it is important to convey the original author’s precise words.
- If you use the exact text – words, phrases, sentences – you must enclose them in quotation marks and cite.
- Short quotes – words and phrases – can be embedded into the text you write. Longer quotes – sentences and paragraphs – should be indented and separated from your words.
- If you rewrite the original text in your own words, you must cite the source.
- If you summarize the argument or data of another author, you must cite the source.
- You must cite any text you read that helped you think about your paper even if you do not reference it directly in the text of your paper.
- If a person assisted you in clarifying your thoughts – either in conversation or email correspondence – you must cite this source.
One way might be to acknowledge in a footnote connected to your paper’s title or opening sentence your indebtedness to a book or person (noting the date(s) of any relevant conversation or correspondence). Alternatively, for a more significant piece of work – such as an independent study or senior thesis – you can include a paragraph of acknowledgements, noting the range of assistance you received from many people.
Common knowledge is information that a reader can reasonably be expected to know. It does not need to be cited.
- For example, “Barak Obama, the President of the United States, was a student of Columbia College” can be considered to be common knowledge and does not need to be referenced.
However, common knowledge does not include opinion.
- For example, you might agree with the statement “Columbia College is the best college” – but this is an opinion, not common knowledge and to make this case you would have to cite sources and data that support the supposition.
You should therefore be careful in the assumptions that you make in assessing what might be considered common knowledge.
Moreover, what might be common knowledge in one discipline might not be common knowledge in another discipline. It is important, then, to learn from your instructor the expectations for citing common knowledge in any given class.
If in any doubt, err on the side of caution and cite your source.