Creation by the Playwright
Playwriting . . . is . . . also like chess, where a whole series of moves must be made to lead up to the one you want. Each of these moves will lead to other moves. And the ultimate aim of none of them should be apparent.
-- JOHN VAN DRUTEN, Playwright at Work
AMONG THE ARTS, DRAMA--combining theater art and dramatic literature--is peculiarly dynamic. In a very real sense a play is a process rather than a thing. It takes a lot of steps for a dramatic idea to travel from the imagination and mind of the playwright all the way to the mind and imagination of the playgoer or the playreader.
The creation of the playscript is one of these steps. Another step is the reading and study of the script by the actors, director, designer, etc. Then comes their interpretative creation of the play through rehearsals and production. The performance itself is another step. With it comes the re-creation of the play in the minds of the spectators. Printing and publishing of the playbook are usually steps beyond this. And finally your own reading of the book trails along at the far end of the long process.
It is the playscript, the playwright's creative work, that we shall devote ourselves to in this second essay.
We defined "stageplay" as a story presented directly by actors upon a stage before an audience. And we defined "playscript" as the written dialogue and stage directions used in creating a stageplay. With an eye to both of these definitions, we might say that a playscript is a story devised or adapted by a playwright for presentation upon a stage to an audience.
The writing and devising of a playscript is called "playwriting." But you will note that the man doing the devising and writing is