Lysicrates Prize 2018


We are thrilled to announce the winner of the 2018 Lysicrates Prize is playwright Travis Cotton for his new play Starfish

Starfish spans the lives of two people, Connie and Richard. At five, Connie is forced to endure tragedy unfit for a grown man. Richard’s life begins with privilege, until he witnesses a life-altering scene of death and helplessness. Richard numbs his pain with booze, Connie transforms into a whale. Starfish ruminates on the complexities of modern life and how to endure it. It genuinely wonders if we’d all be better living a life under the sea?

Travis will now receive a full commission to complete his play.

Congratulations to fellow finalists Christine Evans (GALILEE) and H Lawrence Sumner (The Hollow Queen). And a warm thank you to everyone who attended the event and cast their vote for the winner. 



Playwrights submit the first 20 pages of a new play for The Lysicrates Prize, where it is assessed by a team of professional readers.

The three finalists receive a week’s rehearsal with a professional director and cast, before a staged reading is held at Sydney Opera House. The audience votes for the winner, who receives a full $15,000 commission from Griffin to finish the play. The runners-up each receive a cash prize of $1,000.

The competition is now in its fourth year and is only open to writers who’ve had two or more mainstage plays produced, or equivalent experience. In contrast to the Griffin Award, which is open to writers at every stage of their career, The Lysicrates Prize is intended to support more experienced artists, recognising the significant challenges facing any writer, regardless of experience. Traditionally the prize attracts approximately 20 entries from some of our most exciting and innovative writers.

The Lysicrates Prize is a philanthropic initiative presented by The Lysicrates Foundation and produced by Griffin Theatre Company.


The winner of the 2017 Lysicrates Prize for was Melissa Bubnic for Ghosting the Party who received a full commission 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 Griffin’s 2018 Season. 

Mary Rachel Brown received the 2016 prize for her play Approximate BalanceRunners-up were playwrights Elise Hearst and Campion Decent.

Steve Rodgers won the inaugural Lysicrates Prize for his play Jesus Wants Me for a SunbeamRunners-up were Lally Katz and Justin Fleming. The audience’s 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 Theatre.



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 left 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 Gardens, 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 monument in the Garden. 


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