Someone who writes plays is known as a playwright. Depending on the type of training they received and where they worked, playwrights may also be involved in the staging and marketing of their works. Zhang Junxiang, Bertolt Brecht, Eugene O’Neill, Aeschylus, Anton Chekhov, William Shakespeare, Fumiko Enchi, and Mbongeni Ngema are some notable playwrights.
Dramatic productions have a long history in many cultures, and many cultures have produced plays, operas, musicals, and other types of stage performances. The playwright is the person who writes the play’s words and sketches out the staging directions. In some cases, a playwright develops a story and play on his or her own before looking for a theater to stage it. In other cases, playwrights are commissioned to write a work, and the person requesting the commission may give specific instructions, such as requesting that the play be a retelling of a folktale. Playwrights can also work on adaptations, such as turning a book into a stage play.
Playwriting is a difficult task. Because plays are performed, playwrights must consider how their work will sound when spoken; similarly to poetry, the composition of a play must go beyond the appearance of the words on the page. When writing a historical play or a play about a different culture, a playwright may need to conduct extensive research to learn how the characters should speak and to consider the social norms and morals that would guide the characters’ actions.
A playwright may collaborate with another theatrical professional to complete a piece in some cases. A composer and a librettist, for example, are usually responsible for the music composition and the words in an opera. Librettists are a very specific type of playwright. Playwrights can also collaborate with choreographers on dance productions and dramaturgs on certain types of work, with the dramaturg providing creative consulting.
In some cultures, the playwright’s work ends with the completion of the written work. In some cases, playwrights also serve as directors and, in some cases, actors in the production of their work. William Shakespeare is a good example of a playwright who was fully involved in the staging process, which reflects the way the theater was organized at the time.