By TACP Staff on July 20, 2021

Playwriters, or dramatists, are individuals who create dialogue actors perform within a theatrical context. The job of the playwright includes determining the play’s purpose and subject matter; establishing a point of view; developing dramatic structure and creating dramatic characters. A playwriter is a prolific writer as well as an exemplary storyteller.

What Is Playwriting?

Playwriting is the art of writing a script for a play or skit. Most plays are usually performed on a stage in front of a live audience. Contrary to popular belief, a person that writes plays is not called a “playwrite”, but a “playwright”. The suffix -wright literally means craftsman, and it is often put on the ends of words to represent the workers that craft or create certain things. For example, wheel makers were often referred to as wheelwrights, and play writers were often referred to as playwrights.

The profession of playwriting has literally been around for centuries, although it was more popular during some eras than others. Plays were typically one of the most popular forms of entertainment in ancient Greece and during Medieval times.

Today, with the advent of many different forms of modern technology, some people may argue that playwriting is something of a dying art. True playwrights at heart, however, will never give up on their art. They see it as an artistic form of expression, and it allows them to communicate their dramatic ideas and emotions to others.

What Does a Playwright Do?

Playwrights need to have a passion and a love of writing. These individuals write scripts, which contain dialogue and actions. Writing skills and the ability to create believable dialogue are essential for this type of career.

While playwriting is similar to writing scripts for movies in many ways, it is also very different. For instance, when writing a play, a playwright must keep in mind that human actors will usually be performing his plays in a theater. This means that his creations must have some limits, and extravagant special effects, like explosions, are not always possible.

After a playwright puts the finishing touches on a new script, he must usually find someone willing to buy it. This often means sending the play to several different theaters and waiting months for replies. If the script gets sold, the play will usually be produced by the theater that bought it.

Besides writing plays, some playwrights will also be involved in the actual productions and performances. They might be needed for scripts changes, for instance, or they might play an active prole in promoting their plays. Some playwrights even act in or are theater directors for the plays that they write.

Related: How to Become a Playwright

Playwright Education & Training Requirements

Generally speaking, there are no hard and fast requirements needed in order to pursue a playwriting career. Many playwrights, for example, are often born with basic skills and desire to write plays. Courses in drama or writing may also help aspiring playwrights develop their skills further. Many different colleges, universities, and performing arts schools offer these types of courses. Find out more about drama schools here.

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Playwright Salary & Job Outlook

The salaries for playwriting careers can vary greatly, depending on a number of factors. Many individuals will find that it is very difficult to make a living with a playwriting career, for instance. Very talented individuals, on the other hand, may be able to make a decent wage writing plays. Generally, the success of a playwriting career is also determined partly on the location of the playwright. Individuals in larger cities with several theaters, for example, will usually have a better chance at a successful playwriting career.

Despite their efforts, skill, and determination, many playwrights may actually make little to no money writing plays. In fact, most playwrights will often need to have a “traditional” job in order to have money to live on.

Playwrights who are successful at selling a few of their scripts, on the other hand, may be able to make a decent annual salary. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have any hard data regarding playwriting careers, some sources suggest that it is possible to make around $38,000 annually with a successful playwriting career.

Related: Get Paid to Do What You Love: Seven Strategies to Make Money as an Artist

Related Careers in Drama and Theater

Consider these related careers in Drama and Theater.