A Preliminary Note: Tracking down a play can often present a unique challenge, because many are only published by specialized companies like Samuel French and Dramatists Play Service and are not always listed in the standard "in print" sources. Also, plays often remain unpublished for at least a year after their world premieres, since the playwrights often continue refining the script in response to audience reactions. And many plays, including a surprising number by well-known authors, are NEVER commercially published; many musicals in particular fall into this category. With all of this in mind, here are a few suggestions:
- Search the LAPL CATALOG using Author/Word or Title Browse. If that is unsuccessful, try a Keyword search.
- Author/Word and Title Browse are the best catalog search strategies for plays, because most play collections are cataloged with author and title analytics. Bear in mind that if the play is included in a multi-author anthology, the name of the editor of the collection may appear on the screen where you would normally expect to see the author's name. Also, watch out for multiple plays that share the same title.
- Use the Keyword Search, typing in the play title and author's last name, if nothing was retrieved with Author/Word or Title Browse. Just in case a collection was cataloged with only a contents note rather than analytics, it's always a good idea to double check this way. It's best to include just the last name of the author, since some contents notes include only the first initial rather than the full name. If the words in the title are common ones, make sure to check for "false drops" in the search results; you may be retrieving collections that include all your search words but not the play you're looking for.
- Search the PLAY FILE INDEX (LAPL).
- The Play File is an in-house index listing information about plays which have only been published in magazines, and thus are not in the library catalog. Most (but not all) of the plays listed are recent ones; we have a card file (see below) covering older plays.
- Call the LITERATURE/FICTION DEPARTMENT at (213)228-7345, and we will be glad to check:
- Our in-house card file of unpublished plays and plays unanalyzed in the catalog (most published only in magazines).
- Our collection of locally produced, unpublished plays (patrons must visit Central Library to use these plays and cannot make photocopies).
- The H. W. Wilson Play Index (print volumes), which can be searched by subject as well as author and title.