Playright competition in Australia adopts Ancient Greek tradition

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Audiences often vote with their feet, but thanks to a unique playwright competition based on an ancient Greek model to encourage and reward Australia’s theatrical talent, the audience will have the power to determine the commissioning of a new play.

On Friday, 10 February at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Royal Botanic Garden Sydney the audience will vote for the winner of the 2017 Lysicrates Prize. Now in its third year, The Lysicrates (Ly-SIC-ra-tees) Prize is one of the few playwriting prizes in Australia where the audience judges the winner.

Held in association with the Griffin Theatre Company, The Lysicrates Prize will showcase powerful new plays from three of Australia’s finest playwrights who have been through a vigorous selection process to become finalists.

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The playwrights have submitted the first act of a new play and the audience will witness a staged reading of each act and then vote for the act that they most want to see developed into a complete play.  The winning playwright will receive a full commission ($12,500) to finish the play and two return tickets to Athens.

This year’s three finalists are a group of talented and established playwrights. Nick Coyle is a writer, director and performer, Melissa Bubnic is the 2010 Patrick White Playwright Award winner and the third finalist, Jennifer Compton, is an accomplished poet and recipient of the NSW Writers Fellowship.

All three finalists are covering different themes within their plays – from love, to ageing and breaking away from societal expectations and family matters.

The Lysicrates Prize for playwriting is supported by the Lysicrates Foundation, formed by former Greek Diplomat, John Azarias and his wife, Dr Patricia Azarias, who also funded the restoration of Sydney’s sandstone copy of the Lysicrates Monument in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.  The original marble monument was erected in Athens in 334 BC by Lysicrates, that year’s winner of the annual competition, which for hundreds of years, stopped the city for a whole week at a time.

Patricia & John Azarias, Federal Minister for Communications & the Arts Mitch Fifield, and Lee Lewis, Artistic Director, Griffin Theatre Company

“Bringing back to life after 2500 years, the ancient Greek model of allowing the audience to choose the winner is a demonstration of true democracy. It is a tremendous endorsement of the work of the winning playwright, who will receive a full commission to complete the work.Ultimately, it has to please an audience,” says Mr Azarius.

 John and Patricia decided to form the Lysicrates Foundation to raise money to restore the monument and establish a Lysicrates Prize to encourage and reward the theatrical talent in Australia.

“I always knew there was great talent in Australia and it’s the depth in writing, acting and theatre that make this competition work each year,” added Mr Azarius.

 *Images by Douglas Frost (Copyright)

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.

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