Nowadays we don’t often look to modern Greece for inspiration except for its physical beauty and the charm of its people. But the Ancients were another matter, still providing inspiration in art, philosophy and culture. One of them has inspired a new playwriting competition: The Lysicrates Prize. The inspiration comes via the Lysicrates Monument in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Commissioned in 1870 by the NSW Government of the day, it is a replica of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates near the Acropolis in Athens. The original was erected in the 4th century by a wealthy patron of the Theatre of Dionysus.
This new competition is the brainchild of John and Patricia Azarias who led the restoration of the monument and are now leading the supporters of the Prize in association with the Griffin Theatre Company. The distinguishing feature of the competition is its democratic basis; the winning play is determined by the vote of the audience at a public reading by rehearsed actors of the first ‘act’ of each of three plays. The inaugural shortlist: Lally Katz, Justin Fleming and Steve Rodgers, all experienced and successfully produced writers.
The winner was Rodgers’ Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam, adapted from the novella by Peter Goldsworthy. Rodgers receives a $12,500 commission from Griffin giving him the chance to develop the play fully for performance. It’s a romantic concept with practical benefits all round.
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