The competition is exclusively 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.
Playwrights are asked to submit the first Act of a new play. A reading panel, assembled by Griffin, present a shortlist of six to a judging panel, who in turn select three finalists. The first Act of each play is rehearsed by professional actors and directors for just one week, then performed in front of an audience at a free event open to the public, who vote for their favourite. 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 winner of the 2017 Lysicrates Prize for was Melissa Bubnic for Ghosting the Party. Michele received a full commission from Griffin of $12,500 to finish the script. The two runners-up were Jennifer Compton for The Goose in the Bottle and Nick Coyle for The Feather in the Web, which we are absolutely thrilled to have as part of our 2018 main season.
Mary Rachel Brown received the 2016 prize for her play Approximate Balance. Runners-up were playwrights Elise Hearst and Campion Decent.
Steve Rodgers won the inaugural Lysicrates Prize for his play Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam. Runners-up were Lally Katz and Justin Fleming. Audience response to Justin’s play The Literati was so enthusiastic that the play was selected to be co-produced by Bell Shakespeare and Griffin in 2016, where it enjoyed a sell-out season at the Stables.
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 that wealthy sponsor Lysicrates erected in 334 B.C. Numerous copies of this monument have been made, in countries that the Athenians never knew existed. The most beautiful of these replicas sits today in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. The Lysicrates Foundation was established by John and Patricia Azarias to provide encouragement to Australia’s playwriting talent, and to help restore this beautiful Lysicrates monument.