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What is a Dramatist?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A dramatist, also commonly known as a playwright, is an artist who writes plays to be performed live in a theater. She may write an original script or base her work on a previously published story. Her work may be pure fiction, totally factual or a story based on actual events enhanced by creative license. She commonly works alone but may collaborate with others in the artistic process.

Most celebrated playwrights have a knack for tapping into the human psyche and developing characters and stories that grip a large and diverse audience. A dramatist’s success frequently depends on the intensity of her imagination and her talent to write dialogue that sounds genuine and believable. Finding a director and actors who bring her characters to life often contributes greatly to her success.

When a dramatist is the sole author of a play, she independently creates all parts of it. The writing process often begins with an idea that is developed into an outline. The outline normally provides the basic structure for the play, including identifying the setting, premise, conflict and resolution. Some playwrights dismiss this exercise as archaic while others maintain it is essential for a play to be fully developed.

Once the play has a plot, a playwright traditionally proceeds to create her characters. It is important for her to build a strong image of each person in her story. This description normally includes a vivid physical depiction as well as nuances and quirks to make each character as complex and believable as possible.

The next step the writer normally takes is writing the actual script. As the text is written, the playwright is generally expected to follow the path established in her outline. She generally refers to the guidelines she has written to prevent meandering off track and losing the focus of her play.

After the first draft is completed, a playwright may read the play by herself or distribute copies of it to people whose opinions and feedback she values. As with most professional artists, a dramatist typically highly values honesty and candor from her peers. She often takes notes on the initial responses to her work before beginning the second draft.

When the play is finished, it is presented to the director for review and interpretation. Once the director and playwright concur on the tone and direction of the story, the search for a producer begins. If a producer is found and agrees to finance the project, the actor selection process is typically initiated. Once the cast is chosen, production can begin.

Being a successful dramatist takes much more than writing talent. Perseverance and luck often play a large part in a dramatist’s success. She frequently increases her play’s exposure by convincing local or community theaters to produce it. If a critic from a highly regarded publication likes it, the play may be exposed to larger audiences and gain enough popularity to generate a profit in royalties for the playwright.

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