Lysicrates Prize brings Athenian flare to Royal Botanic Garden Sydney in 2016

Winner of the 2015 Lysicrates Prize, Steve Rodgers with Lee Lewis and Darren Yap - photo by Jessica LindsayThis Friday 29 January 2016, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney will host The Lysicrates Prize – a playwright competition that provokes interest in the historic Choragic Monument of Lysicrates located in the Garden.

The competition, produced in partnership with the Griffin Theatre Company, will showcase plays from some of Australia’s most promising playwright talent and provide a stunning cultural event to help celebrate the Garden’s 200th Birthday in 2016.

The Lysicrates Prize provides an important platform to share just one of the stories from one of Sydney’s most important and enduring green spaces,” says Kim Ellis, Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands’ Executive Director. “As we celebrate a significant milestone for the Garden, a key part of our celebration program for 2016 will be telling these kinds of stories, and recognising the importance of the history and heritage contained within the Garden.”

“The historic Lysicrates Monument is one of the jewels of the Garden. It is hard as a passerby to think that we almost lost this piece of history in the rush of progress. Its salvation is well documented, but the state of the wonderful monument you see today is thanks primarily to the work of John and Patricia Azarias. Their tireless and dedicated efforts to raise funds towards its restoration, and to honour it by holding an annual Lysicrates Play Competition nearby, has created a new legacy for our city.”

20 playwrights each submitted the first act of a new play, with the three finalists: Mary Rachel Brown (Sydney) Approximate Balance, Campion Decent (Melbourne) Saint Theo, and Elise Hearst (Melbourne) The Good Wolf being selected to present a staged reading of their work.

A Sydney audience will now be invited to democratically decide which act they would like to see transformed into a play in its entirety. The winning playwright will receive a full commission of $12,500 from the Griffin Theatre Company to finish his or her respective play. The runners-up will each receive a cash prize of $1,000.

The democratic ‘audience decides’ model of the competition harks back to the ancient Athenian heritage of the Choragic Monument. The first Choragic Monument of Lysicrates was erected in Athens in 334 BC by a certain ‘Lysicrates’ or patron of the arts to celebrate a win at an annual theatre event.

Sydney’s own sandstone replica of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates was commissioned in 1870 by Sir James Martin, then Premier of New South Wales, who was known for his keen interest in the classical arts. The Lysicrates Prize was created in 2015 with a view to ensuring the restoration and protection of the monument for future generations to enjoy.

The 2016 Lysicrates Prize will take place at Verbruggen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music on Friday 29 January commencing at 4.00pm. A free event, though bookings are essential. For more information, visit: www.griffintheatre.com.au or  www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au for details.

Image: Winner of the 2015 Lysicrates Prize, Steve Rodgers with Lee Lewis and Darren Yap – photo by Jessica Lindsay

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