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Audience chooses winning Playwright – First revival in 2500 years of ancient Greek tradition

November 7, 2015 Lifestyle No Comments Email Email

In a world first, a Sydney audience will democratically choose the winner in a modern playwriting competition, following an ancient Athenian model.

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Produced by Griffin Theatre Company, Sydney’s second annual Lysicrates (Ly-SIC-ra-tees) Prize, will be held in The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney on 29 January 2016 (in conjunction with the Garden’s 200thbirthday) The Prize will showcase powerful new plays from some of Australia’s best playwrights.

20 playwrights have each submitted the first act of a new play.  Three finalists will be selected by a two-stage process. The audience will then choose which of these three first acts they most want to see developed into a complete play.  The winning playwright will receive a full commission ($12,500) from Griffin to finish the play.

The Lysicrates Prize for playwriting is supported by the Lysicrates Foundation, which also funds the restoration of Sydney’s sandstone copy of the Lysicrates Monument in the Botanic Gardens.  The original marble Monument was erected in Athens in 334 B.C. by a certain Lysicrates, that year’s winner of the annual competition that for hundreds of years stopped the city for a whole week.process. The audience will then choose which of these three first acts they most want to see developed into a complete play.  The winning playwright will receive a full commission ($12,500) from Griffin to finish the play.

The Lysicrates Foundation was created by John and Patricia Azarias, with two aims: to provide encouragement to Australia’s playwriting talent, and to help restore the beautiful monument in the Garden.

“Patricia and I really believe in the high quality of Australian acting, directing and playwriting talent, and we wanted to showcase, encourage and celebrate it through the Lysicrates Play Competition.  We loved the fact that this is the first time in 2500 years that the ancient Greek model of having the audience choose the winning playwright has been brought back to life.  And we are happy that the Monument is being restored to its full beauty by the NSW Government’s Stonemason Program”, said John Azarias.

“And we love the fact that the audience will be drawn from all ages, all Sydney postcodes and all occupations.  It was democratic in Athens, it is democratic in Sydney”, said Patricia.

Lee Lewis, Artistic Director, Griffin Theatre Company says: “Our stories tell of our history and our future. They are our national treasures. That ancient Greek traditions of playmaking can speak so profoundly to modern Australian playwrights and audiences is testament to the heritages that form this nation and the nation we are creating together. I have been truly inspired by this prize, seeing politicians, librarians, botanists, historians, conservationists, artists, philanthropists and stonemasons coming together around great new Australian plays is thrilling. Seeing the power of an audience to decide the future of a story, to encourage and artist, to invest in an idea, is breathtaking.”

Kim Ellis, Executive Director, Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands says: “The Lysicrates Prize is a prestigious cultural event that is a perfect complement to our wonderful Sydney Botanic Garden. It has become the premier event for Australia’s playwright world and it is one we are proud to host during our 200th birthday celebrations,” said Kim Ellis, Executive Director of the Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands.

The play competition and the restoration are also an outstanding example of public-private co-operation.  The initial funding was provided by a group of philanthropists and the NSW Government made a matching contribution.

Event details

  • Date & Time:  4.00pm, Friday 29 January 2016
  • Venue: Verbruggen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music
  • Price: The Event is FREE.  Over 500 people are expected to attend so booking are required.
  • Bookings:  Tickets available online welcome.griffintheatre.com.au

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