A playwright is an author of plays for performance in the theater.

The earliest playwrights with surviving works are a group of playwrights from Greece during the 5th century BC, notably Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. The term dramatist is sometimes synonymous with playwright, but generally the term dramatist is used to describe someone who writes dramas. All plays are meant to entertain, however a drama is a more serious work while a comedy is specifically designed to amuse the audience. The popularity of the term dramatist may be due to the fact that very few playwrights write only comedy.

Traditionally, in the professional theater, the director and producer may not alter the script without the permission of the writer if his copyright is still in force (the actors may ad-lib if absolutely necessary). This is in stark contrast to the screenwriter, whose words may be changed by anyone in the course of the production. However, in recent years the rise of theatre workshops have led to directors and dramaturges having considerable control over a playwright's work.

A playwright may not always craft a story from whole cloth. For example, David Hare's play "Stuff Happens" derives its title from a famous quote by Donald Rumsfeld. While sections of the play are clearly his own writing, some lines and speeches in the play were spoken by the people depicted on stage.

Many contemporary playwrights like Anna Deavere Smith and Caryl Churchill also use interviews or derive their stories from found texts or collaboratively with a theatre troupe. This approach has precedent, for it was only in the 18th century that the playwright was first seen as the sole author of a theatrical work. Previously, it was the theatre company which shared most of the credit.

Playwrite is not a variant spelling of the word playwright. The -wright suffix implies building something; the homophone with write is in this case coincidental.

See also


de:Dramaturg fr:Dramaturge nl:Toneelschrijver ja:劇作家 zh:剧作家


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