Sydney playwright Brooke Robinson has won the audience vote at the 2020 Lysicrates Prize Event for her play “Deoxyribo-Whatever Acid”, in the presence of Australia’s Governor-General, His Excellency Gen. David Hurley, AC DSO, and his wife, Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley, patron of The Lysicrates Foundation.

As winning playwright Brooke Robinson is the proud recipient of a full commission to finish her work.

Lysicrates Prize Event winning playwright Brooke Robinson is congratulated by Australia's Governor General, His Excellency Gen. David Hurley and his wife, Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley, Patron of the Lysicrates Foundation
Lysicrates Prize Event winning playwright Brooke Robinson is congratulated by Australia’s Governor General, His Excellency Gen. David Hurley and his wife, Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley, Patron of the Lysicrates Foundation

 The Sixth Lysicrates Prize Event was held on Friday 31st January 2020.

The Lysicrates Prize is a competition that showcases some of Australia’s most exciting playwriting talent.

It is based on the ancient Athenian model created as part of The Great Dionysia Festival whereby tens of thousands of spectators would flock to the huge open air Theatre of Dionysus just under the Acropolis, for a drama competition.

The winners of these competitions were chosen not by committee, nor by an artistic director or some other type of expert, but by the entire audience of these ancient Athenians, the people who invented democracy.

Fast forward to present time in Sydney, Australia.

The Lysicrates Prize is a philanthropic initiative created by the Lysicrates Foundation, established by John and Patricia Azarias in 2015, produced by Griffin Theatre Company and presented in association with The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney.

The annual event opens with a staged reading of the first fifteen minutes of each of the Lysicrates Prize finalist plays in front of a live audience at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Each member of the audience is handed a voting coin upon entering the theatre which they use to vote for the best playwright, an echo of the pottery shards used by the voters of the ancient Greek drama festivals.

Once the performances are over the audience members file past urns, using their tokens to cast a vote for their favourite play and thus deciding on the winning playwright.

 

Lysicrates Prize Event audience members displaying their gold voting token.
Lysicrates Prize Event audience members displaying their gold voting token.

 

Audience members use a gold token to vote for their favourite play
Audience members use a gold token to vote for their favourite play

Once the votes are cast and whilst they are being tallied, the audience spills out of the theatre and takes a stroll across to the Lysicrates Monument in the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens, in front of which the winner is announced.

The Lysicrates Monument, The Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens
The Lysicrates Monument, The Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

The significance of the monument to the event stems back to the days of The Great Dionysia Festival.

In 334 B.C., the winning play as voted by the audience had been sponsored by a wealthy choregoi (donor) by the name of Mr Lysicrates who celebrated this win by building a marble monument.

This ‘Lysicrates monument’ is still standing in Athens today, close to the Theatre of Dionysus, the Acropolis and the Parthenon – the very birthplace of European culture.

In 1968, Sir James Martin, KCB, QC, three-time Premier of New South Wales and Chief Justice of New South Wales from 1873 to 1886 and philhellene, endeavoured to bring to Australia some of this rich and beautiful cultural heritage with its associated values and sentiments by building a replica of the Lysicrates monument with his own money.

And it is this beautiful replica which is still standing in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney today.

In 2015, John and Patricia Azarias established the Lysicrates Foundation in order to raise funds towards the restoration of the monument and to honour it by holding an annual Lysicrates Play Competition nearby.

The three Lysicrates Prize finalists this year, were selected from a record number of 49 entrants.

The first play was No Need to Shine a Light when it Shines Like Hers, by Matthew Whittet, a story about a girl’s struggle to be herself in the face of family pressure.

The second play entitled The Party, by Katy Warner, is about a female Prime Minister’s unwilling defenestration by her own party.

Finally came DeOxyRibo-Whatever Acid, by Brooke Robinson, a play that tells the tale of a professor’s ethical dilemma when his research shows that one group of people is more intelligent than others.

Once the readings and voting were complete, all and sundry made their way to the Lysicrates Monument in the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens where a bouzouki was playing, reminiscent of the origins of this event 2, 500 years ago in Athens.

Bouzouki player in the Sydney Royal Botanical GardensIt was here that the Governor-General, His Excellency David Hurley, and his wife, Linda (who is the esteemed Lysicrates Patron), jointly announced the winning play as DeOxyRibo-Whatever Acid, by Brooke Robinson.

To great applause, Mrs Hurley then sang the charming Lysicrates anthem, which she, herself, wrote and composed.

Voting Opens Next Week for Lysicrates Online Winning Playwright Competition

If you missed out on attending this great event you can still be part of history as voting for the 2020 Online Winning Playwright Competition is set to open from next week.

The winning playwright of the online voting will be announced by the Lord Mayor of Sydney at the unveiling of the boy James Martin statue in Martin Place by the Governor-General on 14th May 2020.

The winner will receive $5k, and a miniature replica of the statue – The Martin.

The statue itself shows the boy James Martin walking, reading an open book which has HOMER on one page and ΟΜΗΡΟΣ on the other.

The base of the statue says “James Martin – NSW Premier, Chief Justice, Philhellene”.

Go to the Lysicrates Foundation website from next week to watch the finalist plays for the Online Competition  and to cast your vote.

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