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Production Research: The Play

This guide serves as a starting point for production research.


One aspect of dramaturgy is the research that goes into the theatermaking process. Commonly referred to as production research, this work involves finding information that can be used to explore the many facets of a play: its author, context in our world and the world of the play, production history, critical analysis and interpretation, images and sounds, and sources, influences, and analogues.

Examples of Social Histories

World of the Play

World of the Play - Concerns the setting in which the action takes place. The setting includes: specific information about the environment, what has happened before the play begins, and the attitudes of characters toward the world of the play.

When doing research on the world of the play, look for information about:

  • Economic environment--class, wealth and poverty
  • Political environment--the relationship of the characters to the form of government under which they live
  • Social environment--the mores and social institutions under which the characters live
  • Cultural environment--the arts, architecture, sports, fashion, popular culture
  • Historical environment--events in history


More Databases to Search

Databases provide access magazines, journals, newspapers, and books about the environment of the play.

Subject Encyclopedias

Some examples of subject encyclopedias that help explore the world of the play

Search for Books

Use Primo to find resources on your topic at Collins Library and beyond. Request books held by Summit libraries for delivery to Collins Library within 3-5 business days.

Catalog Search Tips

  • Use terms such as economic, political, or social, and combine it with the time period and/or geographical location of the play's setting
    • Example for Chekhov's The Seagull: Soviet Union and social
  • Look for social histories using the following terms:

    • [country]--social conditions
    • [country]--social life and customs
    • Do a title search using the words "daily life"

  • Search the history of the period
    • [country] and history and [century]

  • Search views of the author
    • [author] political and social views
    • [author] and religion

  • Search for a broad overview of a country or city
    • [country] civilization
    • [city] civilization

  • Search for works about the theatre

    • theater and [country]

Note: When searching by subject in the catalog, use the ER spelling of theatre

Primo Search

Examples of Chronologies

Chronologies identify signficant events during the time of the play.