Playwrights are not writers

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Categories: Devising, New Writing


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6 Comments on “Playwrights are not writers”

  1. March 6, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    Great post! I write prose, poetry, and scripts, and the differences you point out are immense and important. Thanks for your thoughts.

    — Laura

  2. Christine Croyden
    March 6, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    Yes, what a good piece I particularly like:

    ‘They should know better; they should know that the playwright is responsible for the characters, narrative, structure, relationships, exposition, meaning, the world of the play with its rules and atmosphere, the sense of being taken somewhere and through something and out the other side. All these things are augmented – the sound designer makes that atmosphere chilling; the actor makes the character unforgettable – but without
    the playwright these artists have nothing to build on.

    And when they try to build on nothing (in director or actor driven theatre) it invariably amounts to nothing, or looks more like a workshop.


  3. March 7, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    I’m happy writing plays, stage musicals, novels and short stories. Takes the same qualifications and the same creative nook in the brain to do any of these.
    In fact, I don’t think a person can write a play without having a handle on story writing, which relies on the construction of the plot through emotional dynamics.
    The story comes first, then the play, then perhaps the musical.

    Doug Owen

  4. Niki Pidd
    March 7, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    Great article! I ask young actors, when trying to get their heads around the difference between a playscript and a play in performance, “Is an architects drawing a house? Can you live in it?” Then we can discuss the difference between good design and average design. They get it. I have been fortunate enough to direct over 20 plays, by all kinds of wonderful playwrights. It is a joy as a director being inside a play, as it is in rehearsal and really appreciating what the playwright has provided. Realising plays is a wonderful experience of collaborative creativity.

  5. March 7, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    But it is written to be read – as well as performed. I have read, on a page, about 100 times the number of plays I have seen performed – if not more. And i have experienced those plays, maybe in a different way from those I have watched, but not in a lesser way. I am capable of imagining the production elements when reading. So I can’t go all the way with this.

  6. Julie Kay
    March 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    LOL… I hate your title… Playwrights are not writers… but yeah you got my attention! Congratulations on all your awards…. But I believe that a play is written to be read, before it hits the stage….it is imagined, it is usually a book or something by a novelist,or a poets poem, or a child’s picture or a dream or just an idea in your head or the yesterday’s news that spurs a playwright’s passion to paint with the pen…. there is something that spurs that “ARTWORK” … and it is art of the mind that opens up the curtain on the stage! There are two kinds of painters… painters that copy someone elses art…and leave their own style upon a master’s work.. or there is a master… of the pen..People who take someone’s elses work.. and re-write it.. to stage are just not as good at the art of painting in the mind…but sometimes we wouldn’t have a show without them.

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