Some plays are typically performed in installments over multiple nights for the same audience, because a single night is not adequate for the entire story to be told. What is the theatre terminology that describes this—either a word for these type of plays, or the process of performing them over multiple nights? I’m not sure of the part or parts of speech of this word.


They will be performing Wagner’s Ring cycle as [word]—during the evening from Thursday to Sunday—because who has the patience to watch fifteen hours of opera in one sitting?

I wouldn’t watch Tony Kushner’s Angels in America in [word]; I would rather watch both parts in the same night.

  • Is that a serial? Oct 15, 2020 at 8:13
  • @WeatherVane, Almost, but I was looking for the word that could be applied to live, in-person performances, and “serial” is used only for plays in other media. Oct 15, 2020 at 14:31
  • 2
    @ElizaWilson However it is (and was before broadcast media existed) used for printed stories presented over a number of editions of a magazine or newspaper. In fact I would suggest that the broadcast serial derives its concept and description from print media. Just because 19th century theatre didn't (to my knowledge) adopt the serial performance there's no reason not to call a new type of stage performance serial. Whether you'd sell tickets for it or not is another matter.
    – BoldBen
    Feb 18, 2021 at 6:58
  • @Bolden, that’s fair, but I do believe there is a word that has a history of usage in life theatre. Feb 18, 2021 at 7:52
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    a filibuster.
    – jsejcksn
    Feb 20, 2021 at 9:03

2 Answers 2


In an academic article about supposed multi-day performances of a particular work at a particular place, Lucy Monro used the expressions, "multi-day play" or "multi-day performance" of a play. In skimming through the article, I did not see any other term expressing the same idea. The article is available on JSTOR and cites a few other articles about similar performances. It's at least a place to start.

Munro, Lucy. “Governing the Pen to the Capacity of the Stage: Reading the Red Bull and Clerkenwell.” Early Theatre, vol. 9, no. 2, 2006, pp. 99–113. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43500657. Accessed 22 Feb. 2021.

  • I'm not sure now whether there is any such word that I was thinking of, but this seems close enough. Mar 1, 2021 at 2:14

Maybe the word you're looking for is "episodic". For example from Performing Hybridity in Colonial-Modern China:

The play's episodic structure also borrowed from the Shanghai jingju practice of episodic installment plays (liantai benxi) that was popular with new plays of the time. Running over multiple nights, each installment would end with cliffhangers...

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