Cover image for The Facts on File companion to American drama
The Facts on File companion to American drama
Bryer, Jackson R.
Publication Information:
New York : Facts on File, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiv, 562 pages ; 25 cm.
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


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PS330 .F33 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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An encyclopaedic guide to American dramatic literature, this volume contains approximately 650 entries covering playwrights of the pre-20th century up through contemporary ones, major plays, important theatre companies and movements and influential directors and critics.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

As stated in this volume's introduction, "American drama has often been regarded as the poor stepchild in the family of American literature." The introduction goes on to give an overview of American drama from its early beginnings in the 1700s to the present, while noting influential plays and playwrights. It also explains why American drama is neglected and why students and audiences remain "unaware of American drama 'before O'Neill'." Most of the approximately 600 signed alphabetical entries cover major plays and playwrights. Others treat theater companies, theater movements, directors, and topics such as Asian-American drama, Federal Theatre Project, Musical theater0 , and Off-Broadway.0 Emphasis is on the twentieth century. Individual entries vary in length from half a page to about three pages. Biographical sketches of playwrights contain vital statistics and a brief amount of family information, with the bulk of the entry being about their works. Play entries contain a brief production history and a synopsis. Most entries have a bibliography. There are two appendixes at the end of the volume. The first appendix lists winners of major drama prizes for the Pulitzer Prize, New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, Tony Award, and Obie Award. The second appendix is a lengthy general bibliography. There is also a detailed alphabetical index. Despite its stepchild status, American drama is relatively well served by The Cambridge Guide to Theatre 0 (rev. ed., 1995), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance0 (2003), and Salem's Critical Survey of Drama0 (2d ed., 2003) and Masterplots II: Drama Series0 (rev. ed., 2003). The Facts On File volume is useful for its exclusively American focus. Written for a general audience, it is recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries. -- RBB Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

While both books give a broad view of the American theater, they have different strengths. The Oxford Companion is an extensive revision of the 1984 edition and is updated with about 700 entries on contemporary playwrights, performers, and plays, which brings the total to approximately 2600 entries. Both Bordman and Hischak have written extensively about the Broadway theater, particularly musicals, and their experience and interests are reflected in the text. The Oxford has many more entries on producers and individual performers (e.g., Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald, and Ruby Dee have separate entries here but do not in The Facts On File Companion). The articles are more numerous but tend to be shorter, and there is no index or bibliography. The Facts On File Companion reflects the scholarly training of editor Bryer (English, Univ. of Maryland). There are fewer entries (600 total), and many of the articles run several columns with discussions of a particular title (e.g., discussions of Death of a Salesman and Mourning Becomes Electra are each almost three pages). Articles usually have a brief bibliography. Bottom Line If your library has money for only one volume, go with The Oxford Companion. It has more ready-reference detail, and some of the Facts On File analyses of plays can be found in other library sources. However, if the budget allows, buy both, as they complement each other nicely.-Susan L. Peters, Univ. of Texas, Galveston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-This encyclopedic guide provides more than 600 informative and mostly well-written entries on major plays, playwrights, directors, theater companies, and movements from the 18th century to the present. The A-to-Z format, coupled with two appendixes listing the winners of major drama awards through 2003 and a selected bibliography, makes this a useful tool for drama students and individuals wanting quick facts. Any one-volume treatment of an area of study as broad as this invites questions about inclusions and omissions and this title is no exception. For example, there are separate entries for "Musical Theater" and Stephen Sondheim, but not for other equally important figures such as Rodgers and Hammerstein or Bob Fosse. And why are there individual entries for all but four of the Pulitzer Prize-winning plays (excluding musicals)? The index is less than comprehensive and somewhat sloppy; absent are titles of plays and the names of playwrights mentioned in the text of broader entries. Finally, the text and the index have a confusing alphabetical scheme. Despite these flaws, this book remains a reasonable choice for libraries that can only afford one reference tool to cover such an expansive topic.-Betty S. Evans, Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Not a "comprehensive encyclopedic guide" to the American theater, as its publisher claims, this source supplies useful background information on about 600 plays and playwrights, Colonial beginnings to the present, likely to be studied and performed in colleges and universities, with emphasis on the 20th century, including a number of important pre-O'Neill dramatists. Coverage is restricted to works written for the legitimate theater by Native American dramatists; influential foreign works and musicals are excluded. The volume presents a selective guide to "important" playwrights, plays, and movements that the authors believe illustrate the "richness and diversity of our native drama." Criteria for inclusion are unclear. The companion includes most types of drama (e.g., realism, social comedy). The well-written articles, by scholars from academic institutions, summarize the plays in some detail, review their significance, provide thorough biographical information about playwrights and supply bibliographical references. The introduction has several blind references in the footnotes and page references. Excellent articles reflect the diversity of 20th-century American ethnic drama (e.g., Hispanic, African American, Black Arts Movement, gay and lesbian), and there are numerous entries for individual plays in those genres, but theater companies, regional theater, criticism, and movements are less well covered. Omissions include modernism, experimental theater, National Endowment for the Arts. Appendixes include a selected bibliography and list of major drama prizes. Less comprehensive for the 18th and 19th centuries than Gerald Bordman's Oxford Companion to American Theatre (2nd ed., 1992) and less useful for modern theater than The Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre, ed. by Colin Chambers (CH, Nov'02). ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General and undergraduate collections. L. E. Jorbin Cleveland State University



One volume of a series of companion works to genres of American literature, The Facts On File Companion to American Drama is a valuable encyclopedic guide to American dramatic literature throughout history. From the classics to groundbreaking works and visionary playwrights such as Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, and Arthur Miller, this volume covers American drama in its many forms. Authoritative and loaded with the kind of information readers will find fascinating, the book contains approximately 600 A-to-Z entries, ranging in length from 500 to 1,500 words, that cover playwrights, major plays, important theater companies and movements, awards, and influential directors. Many important but obscure plays are discussed along with those that are familiar to the general reader. With contributions from a collection of scholars, The Facts On File Companion to American Drama presents the full history of the genre. Many entries include bibliographies for further research. Appendixes include a general bibliography and a chronological list of prizewinners for major drama awards. Students and others interested in American drama will appreciate having access to this resource for its variety of information and easy-to-use format. Excerpted from The Facts on File Companion to American Drama All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. v
A-to-Z Entriesp. 1
I Winners of Major Drama Prizesp. 535
II Selected Bibliographyp. 542
List of Contributorsp. 548
Indexp. 549