How do I cite the script and performance of a play?
Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.
The script of a play and each performance of it are different works and should be cited separately. Apply the MLA format template to the work to create your works-cited-list entry.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015.
Although the title of a published play is styled with italics, use quotation marks to indicate that a work is unpublished. You may use the optional-element slot at the end of the entry to provide supplemental information about the work:
Marino, Alex. “Ramona’s Umbrella.” 2015. Theatrical script.
To cite a performance of the same work, start with the title and then follow the template of core elements to list the other contributors (author, director, performers), the publisher (the production company), the date of the performance, and the location of the performance:
“Ramona’s Umbrella.” By Alex Marino, directed by Jeannine Overstreet, performance by Tania Milena, Tiny Plays Production Company, 15 Aug. 2017, Second Street Theater, Sacramento, CA.
If you see the play on more than one date, you’re effectively seeing different versions of the work; thus, a new entry is required:
“Ramona’s Umbrella.” By Alex Marino, directed by Jeannine Overstreet, performance by Tania Milena, Tiny Plays Production Company, 17 Aug. 2017, Second Street Theater, Sacramento, CA.
References in the Text
If you refer to both the script and the performance in your writing, be sure to distinguish them in context. For example, you could write:
In the closing scene of “Ramona’s Umbrella,” Marino has Ramona confess to her boyfriend that she’s lost the umbrella (45). In the Tiny Plays production, Tania Milena delivers these lines in an anguished whisper.
For in-text references, cite the script by the author’s last name and cite the performance by the performance name, in accordance with the works-cited-list entries.
This principle applies to other types of works that appear in written form and also are performed, like screenplays and films as well as musical compositions and performances.