How to Find a Play
Plays can be published in several different ways: as a separate book or playscript, in a collection of some or all of the author’s works, in an anthology or collection of plays written by various authors, or in a periodical or magazine. No one approach will find them all. The following step-by-step approach, however, should make it easier to find the play you want.
- STEP 1:
- Look up the play by its title in OSCAR, the library's catalog. If you are lucky, we have a copy of it published separately, and you will find it right away.
- STEP 2:
- Do an Advanced Search in OSCAR, and type in the name of the play. This will often find it in a collection of plays by that author, or in an anthology of plays by different authors. This process works when the OSCAR record includes a “Contents” listing of the plays within the book.
- STEP 3:
- Do a search for the author’s name in OSCAR, then look among the results for books that contain many or all of his or her works. (These often have titles like Complete Works, Collected Plays, or Selected Plays.) OSCAR does not always list the contents of these, but, if you examine the books yourself, you will often find that your play is included.
- STEP 4:
- Look in Play Index. This index tells where to find over 30,000 plays written in or translated into English and published since 1949 in books. It covers both plays published separately, as well as collections of plays by a single author and multiauthor anthologies. Once you know which books contain your play, you can then check in OSCAR to see if we have them. (TIP: If some of your results say “[condensation]” after the name of the play, that will be an abridged or incomplete version of the play. Always click on the title option which does not say it’s a “[condensation]” if you want the complete play.)
- STEP 5:
- Look in Inter-Play. This online database is an index to where plays have been published in collections of plays, anthologies, and periodicals. Though less extensive in its coverage than Play Index, Inter-Play includes plays published in periodicals and in some books published before 1949, as well as in languages other than English. So, it will often turn up additional sources in which to find your play, beyond those listed in Play Index.
- STEP 6:
- Look in printed indexes to plays. These are especially useful for finding older or obscure plays, when none of the steps above have turned up a copy. Once you identify a book or periodical in which your play was published, look for it in OSCAR to see if we have it. The following are some good indexes to try:
Plays in Other Libraries
What if you find out that your play was published in a book or periodical that our library doesn’t have? If it is a book, look in LINK+ to see if any of the participating libraries in California or Nevada have it. If they do, request it online, and the book should arrive here for you within 3 working days. If it is in a book that is not in LINK+, or if the play was published in a periodical, request it through OSCAR's interlibrary loan option, through which we can get copies of periodical articles and borrow books from most other libraries in the U.S. Although some articles are sent electronically, many things take up to two weeks to get here; so, start your search early!