What does a Playwright do?

A Playwright often works in their own time writing plays which can then be published or taken on by a theatre company to perform. There are also opportunities for a Writer to be commissioned by a company to write a play based on their brief.

What are the main responsibilities of a Playwright?

  • To create and write a play
  • Write the synopsis and character list  
  • To stick to the given brief
  • To be able to tell a story through written word for the theatre
  • Working to tight deadlines
  • Researching and gathering data
  • Liaising with Publishers, Directors and Producers
  • Redrafting and reworking the play

You can learn more through one of our opportunities here.

What qualifications do I need to be a Playwright?

While there are no specific qualifications needed to be a Playwright, these courses could be beneficial:

  • Playwriting
  • Scriptwriting
  • Creative Writing
  • English Literature

Here are some subjects that you can study at school which will teach you some useful skills for becoming a Playwright:

  • Creative Writing
  • Drama/Theatre Studies
  • English

Find training opportunities in playwriting here. 

What skills do I need to be a Playwright?

These are the desirable skills to be an ideal candidate for a Playwright opening:

  • Literature skills
  • Computer/IT skills
  • Proof-reading skills
  • Ability to listen and understand guidelines
  • Creative thinking
  • Imaginative ideas
  • Time management
  • Self-motivation
  • Researching skills

What does a career in playwriting look like?

As a Playwright starting out you will be spending most of your time alone, creating and writing plays in your spare time. You can then send your plays to theatres or companies who may decide to take your work on and perform it. Once you have experience of your plays being performed you may get the opportunity to be commissioned by a theatre or company to write a play for them. You can also get a Literary Agent and Publisher to get your work published. Some Playwrights are also Actors, Directors and/or Producers too.

How much can a Playwright earn?

As a freelancer you can negotiate your fee with the company, this would usually be based on how long the run of the show will be, the size of the audience and the ticket prices. If you get your play published then you will earn profits from the sales of your play. Learn more about freelancing with our blog 'How to be a freelancer in theatre.'

The Writers’ Guild rate for a commission for a full-length play – more than 70 minutes – is around £9,000 with independent theatres. The pay at larger theatres may be slightly higher than this.

Find theatre vacancies with The Stage Jobs here


Photo: Alex Brenner

Published: 04 March 2019

Get personalised theatre opportunities

From an organisation? Share your opportunity

You can list your training, outreach or funding opportunities for free and within minutes. Set up an account now and we’ll start helping you reach the people you need…
Read me aloud