Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter


FALL 2005

Add a Little Drama to Your Life!

Asian American Drama - Alexander Street PressIt’s now possible with the resources provided by the Libraries to access the full text of over 7000 plays published in English, French and Spanish. These collections or databases also provide other materials such as selected playbills, production photographs, costume sketches, cast lists, playwrights’ notes, and other ephemera related to the plays.


The plays were published and produced from as early as the late thirteenth century - the likely date of the Shrewsbury Fragments - to Alice Tuan’s Coastline written in 2004. They include the earliest printed American play, Robert Hunter's satire Androboros (1714) and the authoritative editions of all of Shakespeare’s plays.


Chadwyck Healy (now ProQuest) and Alexander Street Press, vendors of a large number of the plays, have creatively used technology to aid in scholarly analysis of this particular literary form. For example, you can easily find all the plays written by T.S. Eliot or August Wilson, or plays which refer to Abraham Lincoln, or find what plays were first performed in 1859, or a list of plays by Hispanic American or Irish-American playwrights, or find plays where the word “epidemic” appears, or plays set in Dublin. The possibilities for study and analysis are endless.


Though plays are intended for performing, performance rights must still be secured from the appropriate copyright holders. Specific performance rights information is provided, when available.


The following are brief overviews of some of the Libraries’ major play collections:


English Drama 1280-1915 (ProQuest) A unique collection of more than 4000 plays in verse and prose tracing the development of drama in English from the medieval mystery cycles to the comedies of Oscar Wilde. It offers exhaustive coverage of the prodigious dramatic literature of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, as well as Restoration plays, medieval morality plays and mystery cycles. Major dramatists such as Ben Jonson, Aphra Behn, William Wycherley, Oliver Goldsmith, Richard Sheridan, Oscar Wilde and J. M. Synge, are well represented.


Editions and Adaptations of Shakespeare 1591-1911 (ProQuest) contains eleven major editions from the First Folio of 1623 to the Cambridge edition of 1863-6, twenty-eight separate contemporary printings of individual plays and poems, selected apocrypha and related works. In addition, it contains more than one hundred adaptations, sequels and burlesques from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


American Drama 1714-1915 (ProQuest) contains a comprehensive survey of American drama from the colonial period to the beginning of the twentieth century that chronicles the history and culture of America in verse, farces, melodramas, minstrel shows, realist plays, frontier plays, temperance dialogues and a range of other genres.


Asian American Drama (Alexander Street Press) contains more than 250 plays by over 40 playwrights from the late nineteenth century and includes such contemporary playwrights as Philip Kan Gotanda, Elizabeth Wong, and Jeannie Barroga. Over half of these plays have never been published before.


Black Drama (Alexander Street Press) contains the full text of approximately 1,200 plays written from the mid-1800s to the present by more than 150 playwrights from North America, English-speaking Africa, the Caribbean, and other African diaspora countries. Many of the works are rare, hard to find, or out of print. The collection includes previously unpublished plays by writers such as Langston Hughes, Ed Bullins, Willis Richardson, Amiri Baraka, Randolph Edmonds, and Zora Neale Hurston.


North American Theatre Online (Alexander Street Press) is a comprehensive reference work covering all aspects of the Canadian and American Theatre from the 1600s to the present. It contains detailed records for more than 10,000 plays, over 40,000 full text records for people, places, theatres, productions, production companies, and over 5,000 images of playbills, postcards, scrapbooks and other resources. Further links to thousands of editorially selected items on the Web are also provided. It can also be used to cross search other Alexander Street Press databases.


Teatro Español del Siglo de Oro (ProQuest) contains the full text of the most important dramatic works of sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain with over 800 plays written by 16 dramatists including Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, Agustín Moreto etc. The entire text of each play is provided in both English and Spanish.


Théâtre du Grand Siècle (Editions Bibliopolis) contains some eighty plays from the seventeenth century including the complete works of Corneille, Molière, and Racine.


Adeane Bregman, Bapst Art Library, HeadAdeane Bregman
Bapst Art Library, Head

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