Understanding the Difference Between a Playwright and Screenwriting

Understanding the Difference Between a Playwright and Screenwriting
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One of the most common misconceptions in the arts and entertainment field is that playwright and screenwriting are almost synonymous in function if not interchangeable. The possible reason can be traced to the similarities shared or the same origin of trend and finally their overlapping history and evolution. It’s not easy to understand where one begins and the other ends, but it’s not right to say that there are no differences either. There is indeed a difference between a playwright and screenwriting. At the end of the day, there is much distinction to be learned.

Understanding Playwright

Simply put, a playwright can be considered a writer for dramatic literature. The output can be considered a literary work which can be used as script or story for live performances or theatrical plays. The wright in the word playwright does not even mean to write but comes from the archaic English form of “craftsman”. Therefore a playwright is able to wrought stories, elements and themes to form a dramatic play.

One of the most famous playwrights is the Oedipus Rex Irony.

Screenwriting in Context


A screenplay is the script or the blueprint exclusive for producing visual arts as film and television. Screenwriting is the process of writing a screenplay. It is true that screenplays can come from other literary original works but it’s hard to translate a screenplay into a playwright.

Playwright vs. Screenwriting

Truly, playwright and screenplay are both scripts in nature but they differ in medium; playwright is for theater and screenwriting is for television or in videos. Theatrical plays and films and TV shows follow a different format as well.

Here are other specific differences:

Writing Format

Another difference between a playwright and screenwriting is that a playwright format is more of a narration while screenwriting is technical. Each has their own specific jargons. For playwright, language and sounds are dominant, with the voices as the most powerful, heavy descriptions per set. Screenplays are dominated by images. Screenwriting divides the story into scenes while playwright breaks it down into acts.

Role Importance

Playwrights perform a pivotal, even the biggest role, in every play while the screenwriting is on the background. Everything is followed based on the playwright while not all the instructions in a screenplay come from screenwriting. That’s because theatrical storytelling focuses on the language created by the playwright while in the screenplay images are recorded and arranged using advanced video editing software. In the end, the most important role goes to the director instead.

To conclude, the medium that uses screenwriting is movie or video production. Its content focuses on the actor’s dialogue and the story direction. The whole video and film production cannot rely on the screenwriting along.

Stage plays or live theater productions depend on the playwright for everything because the storytelling is dominant. In a playwright, there is a detailed description per scene and including expressions and dialogues.

Certainly the difference between a playwright and screenwriting override the similarities. It’s easy to identify one from another. If it’s theatrical productions, praise the playwright. If it’s for video or film, the blueprint can only be produced from screenwriting.

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