How to Become a Playwright

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Plays are an essential part of the theater field and experienced professionals are required to create and write them. Playwrights are dramatic professionals that compose a variety of plays.


Hey, I'm Joshua T. Osborne

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What does a playwright do?

Playwrights (also known as dramatists) write a variety of plays that are usually performed in front of live audiences. Some compose literary works that use dramatic elements, but are not intended for performance. They write the written content and provide rough outlines for staging directions. They involve purpose, action, conflict, and resolution to create a series of events. They sometimes conduct a considerable amount of research to make their plays realistic. Playwrights may also assist with the marketing and staging of their plays. Some also act as directors and actors to perform their works. Playwrights often focus on a specific type of play such as comedy, tragedy, or drama. They also create adaptations from historical, fictional, and narrative literary works. Playwrights often create plays independently and then seek out theaters and performers. Sometimes they are commissioned to compose a play on a specific topic. Playwrights often work with choreographers, musicians, and other professionals to incorporate dance, music, and other elements into their plays.

What kind of training does a playwright need?

Playwrights often earn a bachelor degree in drama, dramatic literature, or other related field. They typically complete courses in the history of literature, theater, English, composition, drama, playwriting, and creative writing. Some aspiring playwrights complete internships or shadow experienced professionals to gain a solid understanding of what playwriting entails. Many playwrights participate in college or local drama performances to gain practical experience in the field. They also present their written plays to groups of peers for feedback. Playwrights often complete continuing education to keep their skills up to date and stay abreast with advancements in the field. They often participate in playwriting workshops, conferences, and seminars.

What are the prospects for a career as a playwright?

Employment of playwrights is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 8% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and expansion of the theater field will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good with strong competition. Playwrights with advanced training and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities.

How much do playwrights make?

As of February 2010, the average annual salary for playwrights is $38,000; average annual playwright salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a playwright is an excellent choice for people with a strong interest in drama and composing a variety of plays. Playwrights must have a solid understanding of the concepts and procedures related to playwriting. Creativity, patience, self-confidence, determination, and critical thinking are necessary characteristics. Playwrights must have excellent communication and the ability to create works that capture the attention of the audience. They must be comfortable on stage and be able to welcome constructive criticism.

Joshua T Osborne

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