Best Research Tools for Theater Arts Students

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Best Research Tools for Theater Arts Students

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

Best Research Tools for Theater Arts Students

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

Best Research Tools for Theater Arts Students

As a theater arts student, research is a vital component in enhancing your knowledge of the field. It allows you to develop a deeper understanding of the history, theory, and current trends in theater. However, the journey to finding reliable, comprehensive, and relevant information can be overwhelming. Fortunately, with the advent of technology, today's theater arts students have access to various research tools that make the process efficient and enjoyable. In this article, we explore the best research tools available for theater arts students.

Understanding the Importance of Research in Theater Arts

Research plays a critical role in the development of theater arts students. It provides a strong foundation in theater history, enhances creativity, and keeps you updated with current trends and innovations. Through research, you can identify models and techniques used by accomplished artists, providing an opportunity to improve your craft.

Developing a Strong Foundation in Theater History

Theater arts have a rich history that has contributed significantly to the contemporary use of the medium. Research on the various periods and styles such as Greek, Elizabethan, Renaissance, and modern theater is crucial in comprehending the evolution of theater arts. Knowledge of the past provides the necessary foundation to expand knowledge and skills in the field.

For instance, researching Greek theater will reveal that it was performed in amphitheaters, and the actors wore masks to portray different characters. This knowledge can inspire a theater arts student to create a modern adaptation of a Greek play, incorporating amphitheater-like seating and mask-wearing actors.

Similarly, researching Elizabethan theater reveals that it was performed in open-air theaters, and the actors were all male. This information can inspire a theater arts student to create an Elizabethan-style play, complete with an all-male cast and open-air seating.

Enhancing Creative Skills Through Research

Theater arts are an ever-evolving field, and research helps to keep up with new styles and techniques developed by renowned artists. From scenic designs to costume creations, research helps students think outside the box and make creative choices that elevate their work.

For example, researching the scenic designs of Tony Award-winning set designer David Korins can inspire a theater arts student to create a set that is both functional and visually stunning. Similarly, researching the costume designs of Tony Award-winning costume designer Ann Roth can inspire a student to create costumes that are not only suitable for the play but also visually appealing.

Staying Updated with Current Trends and Innovations

Research allows theater arts students to stay informed about trends and innovations within the field. This includes current theater productions, experimental shows, and emerging artists.

For example, a student who is interested in directing a play can research current theater productions to gain inspiration for their own production. They can also research experimental shows to gain insight into new and innovative ways of presenting theater. Additionally, researching emerging artists can provide a theater arts student with new perspectives and fresh ideas.

In conclusion, research is an essential aspect of theater arts education. It provides a strong foundation in theater history, enhances creativity, and keeps students updated with current trends and innovations. By utilizing research, students can improve their craft and create impactful and memorable theater productions.

Online Databases and Archives

Online resources have revolutionized the way theater arts students access information. With a few clicks, you can access articles, publications, and multimedia tools that enhance your research. Here are some of the best online databases and archives for theater arts students:


JSTOR is a massive online archive of academic journals, books, and primary sources covering various disciplines, including theater arts. It features works from leading theater experts, including reviews, productions, and histories. JSTOR is a perfect resource for in-depth research on specific topics. For instance, if you are interested in the history of Broadway, JSTOR has a wealth of information on the subject.

One of the advantages of JSTOR is that it has a user-friendly interface that allows you to search for articles by keyword, author, or publication. Additionally, JSTOR offers a citation tool that helps you generate accurate citations for your research papers.

Project MUSE

Project MUSE is an online collection of academic journals that features peer-reviewed articles covering theater arts and other humanities subjects. The database is easy to use and offers access to a wide range of full-text articles.

If you are interested in contemporary theater, Project MUSE has a plethora of articles on the subject. You can find articles on topics such as the role of technology in contemporary theater, the use of multimedia in productions, and the impact of social media on theater marketing.

The Digital Theatre+

The Digital Theatre+ is a modern platform that provides access to essential academic resources, including performances, texts, and documentaries. The platform boasts partnerships with reputable institutions such as the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

One of the unique features of The Digital Theatre+ is that it offers high-quality recordings of live theater performances. This means that you can watch productions from the comfort of your home, which is especially useful if you are unable to attend live performances due to distance or cost.

The New Play Exchange

The New Play Exchange is an online database for new plays that allows theater arts students to search for productions or scripts quickly. It's an ideal platform for students to discover new work, playwrights and stay updated on current productions and festivals.

If you are interested in playwriting, The New Play Exchange is an excellent resource for finding inspiration. You can read scripts from up-and-coming playwrights, as well as established writers, and get a sense of the latest trends in contemporary theater.

In conclusion, online databases and archives are valuable resources for theater arts students. They provide access to a wealth of information and make it easier to conduct research. By using these databases, you can enhance your understanding of theater history, contemporary theater, and playwriting.

Library Resources

Your library is an excellent source of information on theater arts. It provides access to books, magazines, DVDs, and other materials that support research. Here are some essential library resources for theater arts students:

Utilizing Your School or Local Library

Your school or local library is an excellent resource to explore when researching theater arts. You can access a wide range of materials, including reference books, biographies, and plays. The library also provides study spaces, computers, and other amenities to aid in research.

Additionally, many libraries offer workshops and events related to theater arts. These can be an excellent opportunity to learn from professionals in the field and network with other students who share your interests. Check with your library to see what events are coming up.

WorldCat: Finding Books and Materials Worldwide

WorldCat is a global catalog of books and materials held by libraries worldwide. Theater arts students can use the search engine to find materials published outside their local library's reach. The website has a user-friendly interface, making it easy to find resources - even when in a foreign language.

WorldCat also offers a feature called "Ask a Librarian," where you can get help from a librarian with your research. This can be particularly useful if you are having trouble finding a specific resource or need guidance on how to approach your research question.

Interlibrary Loan: Accessing Resources from Other Libraries

Interlibrary loan is a service provided by libraries that enables students to access materials not available in their local library. The service involves borrowing materials from other libraries. It's an excellent option for theater arts students who want access to materials that their local library does not provide.

When using interlibrary loan, it's essential to plan ahead. The process can take several weeks, so it's best to request materials as early as possible. You'll also need to be mindful of due dates and any restrictions on the materials you borrow.

Finally, it's worth noting that interlibrary loan is not always free. Your library may charge a fee for this service, so be sure to check with them before making a request.

Scholarly Journals and Publications

Scholarly journals and publications provide insights into various aspects of theater arts. They feature reviews, critiques, and analysis of productions, and other vital topical trends in the field.

Theatre Journal

Theatre Journal is a scholarly journal that publishes reviews and plays analysis. It's a reputable resource for research on various theater arts subjects, including dramatic theory, criticism, and dramaturgy. The journal also features current trends reports that offer insights into the contemporary theater scene.

Theatre Research International

Theatre Research International covers an extensive range of theater arts aspects, including aesthetics, performance theory, and criticism. It's an ideal resource for students who want to stay updated with the latest theoretical developments in the field.

Performance Research

Performance Research is a contemporary magazine specializing in research and documentation of performance art. It features interviews with leading artists and critics, alongside academic essays and reviews. It's an excellent resource for students interested in the intersection between theater arts and other forms of performance art.

TDR: The Drama Review

TDR is a unique journal publishing cutting-edge theater arts research and experimentation. The journal features artists' works and innovative performance practice, alongside analysis and theory. It's an excellent resource for students interested in exploring alternative theater arts approaches and thinking.


Theater arts research is a crucial component of any serious student's education. It helps to develop a strong foundation in history, enhances creativity, and keeps the student informed about current trends and innovations within the field. With the resources listed above, theater arts students have access to some of the best and most reliable research tools available. By utilizing these resources, students can expand their knowledge of theater arts and become better artists.