How To Quote Stage Directions In An Essay
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The MLA Handbook, 8th ed., does not address how to handle stage directions. According to the 7th ed., writers should treat stage directions the same as any other quoted material within the quote and reproduce them exactly as they appear in the original source, unless they do not fit the context of the sentence. In that case, an ellipsis can replace the stage direction to keep the grammatical sense of your sentence.
To indicate that the quoted material is a stage direction, some scholars use the abbreviation sd after the line number: (120sd). But in an essay that is not specialized in theater history, it would be better to avoid mystifying your readers with that technical detail.
Whenever you quote a play in your essay, MLA style requires you to include an in-text citation showing where the quote came from. For a play, this will include the abbreviated title of the play, and the section of the play in which the quote is found.
If you make the mistake of misquoting stage directions, you may be charged with plagiarism. Playwrights use specific stage directions to support the dialogue of a play and in some cases the stage directions for a scene may be more essential to the crafting of the story than the dialogue of the characters. A well-written stage direction can give clarity to a scene that will guide the performer towards an informed acting choice, so when taking a stage direction out of context it is imperative it is properly quoted.
Highlight the stage directions you wish to quote, this will help you quick reference the text you are quoting while you type or write. Some authors use abstracted formats for creative purposes when writing their stage directions . It is always best to try and retain the exact formatting of the text.
Type the stage directions in their exact wording surrounded by quotes. Some stage directions are written in the play using italics, inside parentheses or brackets; these tools help the original author differentiate between the action and the spoken word at a glance. Setting aside the stage directions in such a way also assists the performers and directors make quick reference to the text. When quoting stage directions inside a written document it is not necessary to use the italics, unless you are quoting a passage of text with both stage directions and dialogue. In the latter case you would use the italics for the stage directions and surround the entire passage with quotes. Stay true to the playwright's work.
Cite your source with the name of the play, the playwright, the act number and scene number; for example \"Taming of the Shrew\" by William Shakespeare, Act III scene I. Use Roman Numerals for the act and scene numbers. Quoting stage directions is similar to quoting any written source. Playwrights have fought hard to have their stage directions to remain copy-written. If you use a stage direction inside another text without citing the source you will be committing plagiarism.
Sources that take the form of a dialogue involving two or more participants have special guidelines for their quotation and citation. Each line of dialogue should begin with the speaker's name written in all capitals and indented half an inch. A period follows the name (e.g., JAMES.). After the period, write the dialogue. Each successive line after the first should receive an additional indentation. When another person begins speaking, start a new line with that person's name indented only half an inch. Repeat this pattern each time the speaker changes. You can include stage directions in the quote if they appear in the original source.
Stage directions can be as simple as one word describing how the character should speak, or they can be a lengthy description of the set and mood of the show. In some plays, such as Tennessee Williams' \"The Glass Menagerie,\" the stage directions are almost as important as the dialogue in determining the author's intent. When writing about these plays for a scholarly paper, it's important to successfully note and interpret stage directions, and theater researchers must follow specific guidelines when quoting a play's stage directions in their work. The Modern Language Association, or MLA, guide explains the standard format for doing this.
Like dialogue, stage directions are set off from the main body of a research paper's text. According to MLA guidelines, stage directions should not be formatted any differently than the rest of the dialogue that's cited in the paper and should be reproduced faithfully. If it's necessary to omit stage directions when quoting from a play, ellipses can be used to indicate the missing language.
About Lone Star College Academic Departments English Departments LSC-North Harris English Department Model Essays The Use of Stage Directions in \"The Glass Menagerie\" Some plays like Sophocles' Antigone do not require elaborate stage directions because the setting is not important to the play's structure. The lighting, music, costumes, props and movement of the actors are not necessary for the development of the play's characters or theme. In Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, however, stage directions are essential to the understanding of the play. Detailed stage directions intensify the unrealistic setting, foreshadow and emphasize events, and develop the characters.
Dim colored lighting and symbolic melodies create the unrealistic setting for the memory play. In his opening narration Tom says, \"Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic. In memory everything seems to happen to music. That explains the fiddle in the wings\" (699). Throughout the play the stage directions call for \"a turgid smokey red glow,\" \"gloomy gray\" lighting and \"deep blue dusk\" which create the hazy images of a memory. For a short while, as Jim enters, there is a \"delicate lemony light\" (688), and a soft light from the new lamp brings out Laura's \"unearthly prettiness\" (695). Yet, at the end of the play, and throughout its majority, the set is grim, characteristic of Tom's sad memory. Music in the play can be symbolic or simply add to the emotion of a scene. In scene four, \"Ave Maria\" plays softly in the background, symbolizing Amanda's duties as a mother. Throughout the play, music swells and recedes with the rising and falling of the characters' emotions. For example, as Tom is confronting his mother with the reality of his sister's handicap, \"the music changes to a tango that has a minor and somewhat ominous tone\" (687).
Describing characters' appearances and presenting messages upon the screen, the stage directions foreshadow and emphasize events. The description of Tom standing on the fire escape looking \"like a voyager\" (692) foreshadows his escape to the Merchant Marines. Also, the description of Laura as \"a piece of translucent glass touched by light, given a momentary radiance, not actual, not lasting\" (688) foreshadows Laura's brush with self-confidence that leaves as quickly as it comes. Finally, the screen images also foreshadow and emphasize events. For example the screen legend that says \"Plans and Provisions\" (681) foreshadows Amanda's plan to find her daughter a husband and emphasizes Amanda's sense of duty to protect her family. The screen legend that reads \"Annunciation\" foreshadows Tom's announcement that he has found a gentleman caller. It also emphasizes, through its biblical allusion, that the coming of the gentleman caller is a very special and long awaited event.
By specifically stating the characters' actions, the stage directions develop the characters more than their dialogue alone. For example, the stage directions describing Amanda's actions and dress exemplify her pretenses and her inability to part with her past. Amanda sits on the fire escape \"gracefully and demurely as if she were settling into a swing on a Mississippi veranda\" (683). The night the gentleman caller comes, Amanda \"wears a girlish frock of yellowed voile with a blue silk sash. She carries a bunch of jonquils--the legend of her youth is nearly revived\" (689). Although the stage directions show Amanda's inability to face reality, they leave the audience with a sense of admiration for Amanda and her attempt to protect her family. In the last scene the audience sees Amanda comforting her daughter with \"her silliness gone, [having] dignity and tragic beauty\" (707). Through her dialogue and the stage directions which describe her actions, Laura is portrayed as fragile, translucent and stagnant, just like her glass collection. The stage directions continuously show how delicate her mind and body are. As Jim and Tom arrive, Laura is incapacitated by fear. According to the stage directions, she \"darts through the portieres like a frightened deer\" (691). The stage directions tell the audience that \"while the incident [Laura's encounter with Jim] is apparently unimportant, it is to Laura the climax of her secret life\" (696). This point may never be detected by an audience that is not familiar with the stage directions, yet it is very important to the development of Laura's character because she fails at her one chance to change. A final stage direction important to the development of Laura's character is her returning to the Victrola when Jim leaves. This action indicates that Laura has not changed from her experience with Jim, and she will continue to escape reality through her music and memories.
The stage directions in The Glass Menagerie are as important to the theme of the play as the dialogue itself. Without the stage directions specifically describing the lighting, the costumes, the music, and the characters' actions, an entirely different message might be conveyed. Without the dim lighting and the music, the play might seem too real to be a memory. Without certain actions of Amanda and Laura, an audience might believe that Laura has come out of her shell for good or that Amanda is simply an overprotective mother who cannot face reality.