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 often is not meant to include playwrights whose focus is 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 the playwrights work.
A playwright may not always craft a story from whole cloth. Many contemporary playwrights like Anna Deavere Smith and Caryl Churchill 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 ironic, and possibly intentional.
Last updated: 07-30-2005 16:29:34