"The play's the thing"

July 4, 2018 | Wendy

Comments (6)


"I want to read plays!  Lots of them!  Gazillions of them!  I love the theatre, want to work as an actor, put on a show, or read and learn, and have been dying since Theatre Books closed its doors a few years ago.  Where do I go now?"

If this speaks to you, then read on...

The Toronto Reference Library's Arts Department has the largest play collection in a Canadian library.  And it's available for everyone, any time you are in the library, on the 5th floor, in the Arts Department.  And you can sit there reading for as many hours as the library is open.

Play collection

'Hot stuff!' you exclaim, and indeed you should.  And more than that, know you are not alone in your passion.  Toronto ranks 4th in the world for live theatre according to Huffington Post, closely following other great theatre cities like New York, London, and Athens! If you want to read the play you have booked to see at the Tarragon, Factory Theatre, or Canadian Stage, it quite likely sits on the shelves of the 5th floor of Toronto Reference Library.   

Canadian Plays

Our Canadian play collection rocks, what with the library striving to purchase EVERYTHING published in English and French.

British and American Plays
The best and most popular of the Brits and Americans, including the hottest of the emerging playwrights are all there in our collection.  And if you are an Ibsen, or Brecht, or Sophocles or Fosse or Kundera or Anouilh or Reza or Pirandello or Noh theatre (you get the picture) fan, you will find it all in translation along with anthologies of the best of Africa, Europe, South America, the Middle East and Asia's established, contemporary, and emerging playwrights.  Whew!

World plays 

But what if you are an emerging playwright yourself (or wish to emerge)?  Or want to audition for community theatre, and need to find that perfect monologue?  We have items in our collection to help you hone your craft. 

Monologues and playwriting

We have monologue and scene collections for your use, some geared for men, some for women, some specifically Canadian monologues, and others, for diverse groups; and likely the play you ought to read because it's the one you are auditioning for.  

Audition listing service

Even beyond that, we have an audition service that lists the plays we have on hold for auditioners -- and you can subscribe to it to know instantly that we have the play on audition!

And if you are a downright, whole-hog, no-bones-about-it theatre geek who needs to know when and where every play in Canada was produced and who did the scenography, we have that too; the Canadian Production Index is your guide.

Canadian theatre programs

In the Reference Library's stacks (a behind the scenes storage area) lies an impressive collection of theatre programs going back to the mid-19th century, waiting for such highly motivated individuals to come and request to see them!  

There is so much more...but to find out exactly what that is, come visit us on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library at the Arts information desk and ask!

Like Hamlet famously said, "The play's the thing!"