The Lysicrates Prize


Now in its third year, the Lysicrates Prize is a philanthropic initiative presented by The Lysicrates Foundation in association with Griffin and The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney.

The competition is only open to writers who’ve had three or more mainstage plays produced. In contrast to the Griffin Award, which is open to writers at every stage of their career, the Lysicrates Prize is intended to support established artists; recognising the significant challenges facing any writer, regardless of experience. The prize has attracted entries from some of the country’s most exciting and innovative writers.

The winning play receives a commission of $12,500 to finish the script. Each of the runners-up receive a cash prize of $1,000.

2017 Lysicrates Prize

The three finalists for the 2017 Lysicrates Prize for Playwriting have been announced. 

Melissa Bubnic’s Ghosting the Party
Jennifer Compton’s The Goose in the Bottle 
Nick Coyle’s The Feather in the Web 

These three finalists will receive a week’s rehearsal with a professional director and cast, culminating in a live, staged reading before an audience, who vote for the winner on the day. The winning play receives a full commission from Griffin of $12,500 to finish the script. Each of the runners-up receive a cash prize of $1,000.

Date & Time Friday 10 February, 4pm
Venue Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Tickets The event is open to the general public, tickets are free and can be booked here.


2016 Winner

Mary Rachel Brown was awarded the second annual Lysicrates Prize for new Australian Playwriting, receiving a full $12,500 Griffin Theatre Company commission, as voted by the audience, at Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Mary Rachel Brown was amongst three finalists who were shortlisted to submit the first act of a new play. The two runners-up Campion Decent and Elise Hearst each received a $1,000 cash prize.

The three shortlisted plays were:
Mary Rachel Brown’s Approximate Balance, about the Lightfoot family who struggle to cope with their son’s alcoholism. A young Filipino woman offers them a unique perspective on how to heal. Sometimes we find family where we least expect it.
Director: Mitchell Butel
Cast: Linda Cropper, John Gaden, Richard Sydenham, Lena Cruz

Campion Decent’s Saint Theo, when struck by lightning, stonemason and amateur thespian Theodore embarks on a Gilbert and Sullivan inspired philosophical quest with a mysterious young revenant and a woman in a pirate hat.
Director: Helen Dallimore
Cast: Simon Burke, Rowan Witt, Paula Arundell, Tamlyn Henderson

And Elise Hearst’s The Good Wolf, Naomi is a good Jewish girl trying not to be bad. The Good Wolf is her story about family, legacy, and finding love
Director: Ben Winspear
Cast: Michelle Lim, Deborah Kennedy, Natalie Gamsu, Hamish Michael


The History of Lysicrates

A highlight of Athenian life in the fourth century B.C. was the theatre competition, held in public in a large amphitheatre. Wealthy patrons would sponsor a theatre company, and the prize for best play or musical performance – a highly valued status symbol – was a bronze tripod, which the winner was expected to place on top of a monument they would commission. All the winners’ monuments lined the Street of the Tripods in central Athens.

Today the Street of the Tripods still exists, but the only monument standing there is the one the wealthy sponsor Lysicrates erected in 334 B.C. So elegant is it, and so redolent of the ancient Athenians’ passion for theatre, that numerous copies have been made, in countries the Athenians never suspected existed. The most beautiful of these sits today in Sydney, in a spectacular setting in the Royal Botanic Garden, made of warm golden Sydney sandstone, it is, however, crumbling.

The Lysicrates Foundation was established by John and Patricia Azarias to provide encouragement to Australia’s playwriting talent, and to help restore the beautiful Lysicrates monument in the Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

Read more about the genesis of the competition