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Playwright competition brings back ancient tradition

In a throwback to ancient times, audiences are being given the final say on the winner of the 2017 Lysicrates Prize

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Photo: Griffin Theatre

30 January 2017

In a fresh, yet ironically ancient take on rewarding theatrical talent, next month the audience will have a unique chance to vote with more than its feet when it comes to awarding the 2017 Lysicrates Prize.

Taking place at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Royal Botanic Garden Sydney on Friday 10 February, a reading of the first act of three new powerful works will be performed by Australia's finest playwrights, each of them selected as finalists through a rigorous process.

This year's three finalists include established writer, director and performer Nick Coyle; Melissa Bubnic, winner of the 2010 Patrick White Playwright Award; and accomplished poet and recipient of the NSW Writers Fellowship, Jennifer Compton – all of whom are covering different themes ranging from love and family matters to ageing and breaking away from societal expectations.

Following the three readings, the audience will vote for the act they would most like to see developed into a complete play, with the winner receiving a full commission of $12,500 to finish the play and two return tickets to Athens.

Held in association with the Griffin Theatre Company, the competition is being held for the third year and is supported by the Lysicrates Foundation, which was formed by former Greek diplomat John Azarias and his wife, Dr Patricia Azarias.

The foundation was created by the couple to help fund the restoration of Sydney's sandstone copy of the Choregic Monument of Lysicrates in Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden last year, the original of which was erected in Athens in 334BC by Lysicrates, the winner of that year's annual competition, which put city life on hold each year for a whole week and continued for hundreds of years.

With an appreciation of theatre and the arts as a whole, the Azarias also saw the opportunity to reintroduce the prize so as to encourage and reward the theatrical talent in Australia.

"Bringing back to life, after 2,500 years, the ancient Greek model of allowing the audience to choose the winner is a demonstration of true democracy," Mr Azarius said.

"It is a tremendous endorsement of the work of the winning playwright, who will receive a full commission to complete the work."

The Lysicrates Prize 2017 – The People's Choice will take place at Verbrugghen Hall Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Conservatorium Road, Sydney, NSW on Friday 10 February at 4.00 pm. For more information, visit lysicratesfoundation.org.au/

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