A playwright is someone who writes plays. Playwrights may also be involved in the staging and marketing of their plays, depending on the type of training they have received and where they have worked. Some notable examples of playwrights include: Zhang Junxiang, Bertolt Brecht, Eugene O'Neill, Aeschylus, Anton Chekhov, William Shakespeare, Fumiko Enchi, and Mbongeni Ngema.
The practice of staging dramatic productions is ancient, and many cultures have a very long history of producing plays, operas, musicals, and other types of stage performance. The playwright is the person who writes the words of the play and provides rough outlines of staging directions. In some cases, a playwright develops a story and play entirely independently before seeking out a theater to stage the production. In other instances, playwrights are commissioned to write a work, and the person requesting the commission may provide directives, such as a request that the play be a staging of a traditional folktale. Playwrights can also work on adaptations, such as an adaptation of a book so that it can be performed on the stage.
Writing plays is very hard work. Since plays are performed, playwrights need to think about how their work will sound when it is spoken; much like the composition of poetry, the composition of a play must move beyond the way the words look on the page. Especially when a playwright is working on a historical play or a play featuring a different culture, he or she may need to do considerable research to learn about how the characters should speak, and to consider the social norms and morals which would guide the actions of the characters.
In some cases, a playwright may work with another theatrical professional to create a finished piece. For example, with an opera, the music composition and words are usually produced by two different people, a composer and a librettist. The librettist is a highly specialized type of playwright. Playwrights can also work with choreographers on productions which involve dance, and with dramaturgs on some types of work, with the dramaturg providing creative consulting.
In some traditions, the work of the playwright stops with the completion of the written work. In others, playwrights are also directors and sometimes even actors, participating in the staging of their written work. William Shakespeare is a notable example of a playwright who was fully involved in the staging process, a reflection of the way in which the theater of the time was organized.