Playwright: Builder of Drama

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PlaywrightAll the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts…

—William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Here’s something most people don’t know: A person who writes plays is call a playwright, not a playwrite. Strange, isn’t it? Well, according to Grammarist, “The wright in the compound noun playwright is a little-used word referring to one who constructs or repairs something. It also appears in shipwright, which refers to a person who builds ships.” So now that we got that out of the way, let us continue.

From ten-minute plays to full-length plays, from one-act plays to musicals, playwrights ply their trade by writing dramatic stories to please their audience. Playwrights can be found as far back as the time of the Ancient Greeks. There were plays written for annual Athenian competitions held around the fifth century BC, and ancient playwrights like Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes established forms still relied on by their modern counterparts.

Playwrights continue to thrive in the centuries that follow. William Shakespeare, perhaps the most popular playwright of all time, wrote as many as 37 plays, as well as 154 sonnets. His plays Romeo, Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, are considered masterpieces.

Today, playwrights may not reach the same fame and recognition that the people who came before them enjoyed. But that doesn’t mean that the quality of their work is any poorer. These days, playwrights often find it difficult to earn a living in the business, let alone achieve major successes. However, they continue to do what they love because it’s what they are born to do.

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by Rosalie H. Contino, PhD