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Drama: Acting: Overview

In this guide

Basic reference books, search tips, new books, playscripts online, streaming audio and video, selected links for voice, accents, physical and interactive theater and organizations.

See these research guides for more resources on finding books, articles, reviews and more.


Library Catalogs

Books on acting generally congregate in the Language and Literature section of the library represented by P-PQ in LC Library of Congress Classification  but are also scattered in different locations, or they may be online.

Tips on searching Cameo library catalog for books in print and online

Browse the stacks: PN2061-2078
and search Cameo to find more resources in various other locations.

Sample searches
Actors history
Actor training

Psychological Aspects

Study and Teaching Technique


Television acting
Motion picture acting
Vocational guidance
Professional guidance

Find plays in other library catalogs

Pittcat  University of Pittsburgh Library holdings

Other Pittsburgh library catalogs  Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Chatham University, Carlow University, Point Park University, and Robert Morris University.

WorldCat includes holdings for all of the above as well as other local, regional, national and international library holdings

Databases Online: Plays

Twentieth Century North American Drama is a growing full-text database, currently containing 850 plays including the complete works of major playwrights as well as plays by emerging playwrights. Searchable by keyword, author, play title, characters, scenes, subjects, years, productions, theaters, and companies. Additional information on playwrights, theaters, companies, productions and performances is included along with a selection of playbills, posters and other ephemera.

Asian American Drama
Contains the full-text of 250 plays by Asian American playwrights. It is searchable by author, play title, characters, scenes, subjects, years, productions, theatres, and companies. The database also contains playwright biographies, details on productions, theatres and theatrical companies, as well as production photographs, selected playbills and other information related to the plays.

Black Drama
Contains the full-text of 1200 plays by black playwrights. It is searchable by author, play title, characters, scenes, subjects, years, productions, theatres, and companies, including related resource and biographical information.

Contemporary World Drama
New work from Alexander Street Press existing playwright partners alongside work from up-and-coming playwrights from around the world, including recently produced world premieres and previously unpublished works from every continent.

Drama Online
1550 plays: classic to contemporary; L.A. Theatre Works audio plays; Globe on Screen streaming video, more....

North American Women's Drama
over 1,500 full-text plays by women from colonial times to the present. Allows in-depth browsing and searching; includes detailed information on related productions, theaters, production companies and and more. Plays were selected by the Alexander Street Press editorial board using recognized play bibliographies and in consultation with other scholars and playwrights.

Internet Shakespeare Editions (ISE) is an open-access, non-profit scholarly website presenting full-text Shakespeare plays and poems, Shakespeare’s life and times, and Shakespeare in performance.

Streaming Databases

Audio Drama: The L.A. Theatre Works Collection
More than three hundred important dramatic works in streaming audio from the curated archive of the nation’s premiere radio theatre company. The L.A. Theatre Works Collection is also available online via our Drama Online database.


Digital Theatre Plus

British theatre productions streamed in high definition and more; additional educational content.


Drama Online Globe on Screen
World-class performance at the Globe on streaming video.

Kanopy Streaming Service. Provides remote access to over 25,000 documentary and feature films on many subjects including theatre and performance.
Offers filmed concerts performed by today’s greatest names in classical music, archive movies, inspiring documentaries on performers and composers, educational programs, and master classes.

Met Opera on Demand
Provides unlimited access to more than 450 extraordinary Met performances.
High-quality films of full-length performances by current provocative artists working in dance, theater, music and other forms.

Dance Online: Dance in Video and documentaries in streaming video with influential performers and companies of the 20th century. Includes ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, experimental, improvisational dance, and forerunners of the forms and the pioneers of modern concert dance;
search, browse, cite or bookmark videos to the moment; make custom clips, annotate and share them.

Music Online: Opera in Video
...important opera performances, captured on video through staged productions, interviews and documentaries; selections are based on a work’s importance to the operatic canon.

Theatre in Video
...definitive performances and documentaries in streaming video with leading actors, playwrights and directors covering a wide range of 20th century theatre history. Includes contemporary revivals of classic works, television broadcasts of New York productions, experimental performances and more;
search, browse and bookmark scenes, monologues, and staging examples to a link that can be shared.

New Acqs of Interest

Homan, Sidney. Comedy Acting for Theatre: The Art and Craft of Performing in Comedies. London ; New York : Bloomsbury Methuen Drama.
HUNT STACKS-4 (Stacks 4th Floor) PN2071 .C57 H66 2018


Hutchinson, Anjalee Deshpande.  Acting Exercises for Non-Traditional Staging: Michael Chekhov Reimagined.  New York, NY : Routledge, 2018.

Pisk, Litz. The Actor and His Body. London: New York: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 4th edition, 2018.


Osnes, Beth. Acting: An International Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California; Denver, Colorado: ABC-CLIO, 2001.
FA-REF-4 PN2035 .O84 2001


Sharp, Harold, S. Index to Characters in the Performing Arts. New York: Scarecrow Press, 1966
HUNT FA-REF-4 PN1579 .S45 (6 volumes)

Williams, Simon. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Stage Actors and Acting. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 

Selected web links

Voice and Accents

Fitzmaurice Voicework
Approach to voice training that explores "the dynamics between body, breath, voice, the imagination, language and presence" encouraging "vibrant voices that communicate intention and feeling without excess effort."

NCVS (National Center for Voice and Speech)
A non-profit organization concerned with vocal research and health. Includes other links.

Proper Elizabethan Accents (Renaissance Faire)
Includes pronunciation, pronunciation drills, grammar, vocabulary, songs, forms of address, insults and references.

Speech Accent Archive (Program in Linguistics,George Mason University)
A sound archive of speech accents from native and non-native speakers of English.

Physical and Interactive Theater

Alexander Technique for Actors
"We bring people together to explore an essential process that is foundational to the empowerment of actors —in their work and in their lives..We aim to make the Alexander Technique accessible and available to actors at every level so all can benefit from the work.  We also want to provide opportunities for Alexander Technique professionals to expand and refine their understanding of the Alexander Technique as it applies to the specific skills an actor needs."

Applied and Interactive Theater Guide (Toni Sant)
A resource of non-traditional theater techniques and styles.

The New Improv Page (Fuzzy Gerdes)
A clearinghouse for information on improvisational theater.

Interactive Dramas (Brian David Phillips)
"Theatre-Style Live Action Roleplaying Games"


Actors' Equity Association
Actors' Equity Association, founded in 1913, is the labor union representing actors and stage managers in the legitimate theatre in the United States.

ATME The Association of Theatre Movement Educators
Web site not functioning (accessed 4/17/14)
A service organization for movement educators in actor training

Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists merged March 2012.