Drawing from recent scholarship on the role of Prakrit in South Asian literature at large, this article queries the ways in which the multiple languages of the premodern drama might have functioned in performance. Rather than reading the variance as verisimilar, replicating the diversity of spoken languages found in the premodern subcontinent, this work adapts J.L. Austin’s concept of the performative utterance and proposes that language choice in premodern Indian drama be read as part of a schema of performative linguistics. With case studies chosen from Shudraka’s The Little Clay Cart and Bhasa’s The Five Nights, I argue that Sanskrit and Prakrit as languages do different work in the drama, making language itself a semiotic system within the premodern dramatic tradition.