The Lysicrates Prize (24/11/15)
On the edge of the Sydney Harbour in the Royal Botanic Gardens are the elegant columns of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, a wealthy patron of musical performances in the ancient Theatre of Dionysus, to commemorate the award of first prize in 335/334 BCE to one of the "Dionysia" performances he had sponsored. The Sydney monument is a near-replica put up two millennia later by Sir James Martin, three times premier of NSW, donor of his name to Martin Place, and a man who had never been to Greece.
It is only in May 2014 that the idea of establishing a foundation with the objective of raising funds for its restoration appeared (including the damaged frieze of Dionysus, satyrs and pirates) and furthermore the revival of a drama competition which the monument commemorated.
On January 30, 2015, the first modern Lysicrates Prize was awarded to a new Australian play, Steve Rodger's "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam", (click here), one of three competing performances put on at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music by Sydney's "Griffin Theatre Company". In a very classical historical atmosphere, the audience chose their winner in the old Athenian way, by putting a token into one of three jars. The NSW Premier, Mike Baird, launched the whole concept in a warm "Greek hospitality" ceremony at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The monument and the competition (to be held annually) are now the subject of a lavishly illustrated 154-page album (attached in pdf format), bearing the title "The Lysicrates Prize - The People's Choice", published by the Lysicrates Foundation to help fix the prize into Sydney's cultural calendar.
I urge you to have a thorough look at the Lysicrates Prize album so as to understand the emergence of a new opportunity for the contribution to artistic excellence in Australia. I also wish to acknowledge and applaud the inspiration and commitment of all the members of the Lysicrates Foundation for their efforts and commitment to restore this Sydney's monument as well as conceive the idea of a contemporary theatre competition based on the ancient Greek model.
Dr. Stavros Kyrimis