The2020Lysicrates Event


The muse of comedy, Thalia, was really smiling on us on Lysicrates Day, 31 January 2020. For a few short days at the end of the month, the months-long bushfire smoke had cleared, and the early February floods had not yet begun. The sun came out and suddenly it was a traditional Sydney summer evening, soft, warm and clear.

And Thalia was right there inside the Conservatorium as well. A very full house, and three funny/serious plays, survivors from a record field of 49, all three all with that particularly Australian tang — a tear in one eye, a laugh in the other. No Need to Shine a Light when it Shines Like Hers, by Matthew Whittet, a girl's struggle to be herself in the face of family pressure; The Party, by Katy Warner, a female Prime Minister's unwilling defenestration by her own party, in close-up; DeOxyRibo-Whatever Acid, by Brooke Robinson, a professor's ethical dilemma when his research shows that one group of people is more intelligent than others.

Who would have thought that these sober themes would raise the belly laughs that echoed off the Conservatorium walls? Or the debates, banter, and teasing among friends, and even strangers, in the audience? It was all very Australian.

Voting wasn't compulsory, though, but only five out of 500 people didn't vote. So it was a truly democratic process, as usual.

The walk from the Conservatorium, through the Botanic Gardens, down to the Lysicrates Monument was magical, with pink clouds and waving branches, and the Greek trio inviting dancing at the end.

Waiting for the announcement, people sat around on the grass in little groups, like figures in an Impressionist painting. The Governor-General, His Excellency David Hurley, and his wife, Linda (who had kindly agreed to become the Lysicrates Patron), jointly announced the winner.

And it was DeOxyRibo-Whatever Acid! Just as excited as Brooke, perhaps even more, were her parents and her cousin, who had come from afar, and who joined the rest of the throng in the stroll up to the party at the nearby Botanic House Restaurant.

Laughter and chatter echoed through the night, and at the end, I'm sure that Thalia, looking down from Mount Olympus 3000 years and 20,000 kms away, was very well pleased with what she had wrought.

Watch the highlights below

The 2020 Finalists

No Need To Hide a Light When It Shines Like Hers

No Need To Hide a Light When It Shines Like Hers

Playwright: Matthew Whittet

The second play was No Need To Hide a Light When It Shines Like Hers by Matthew Whittet. This is a suburban story of epic proportions. Connie is 24 and lives with her Mum Suzannah. Physie (Physical Culture) is their life. Suzannah was Senior Grand Champion in her day, and Connie is only 3 weeks from her own potential National Championship title. She's the apple of her mother's eye and can do no wrong. But Connie is having serious doubts. Something is stirring deep in her that she can't explain. Something strange and confusing that is threatening to undermine everything that she and her mum have ever worked for.

As she tries to explain it all to her best friend, the overly expressive (but only on the inside) Grace, she realises that something is actually missing from her life. And now it's no longer just dancing that she yearns for.

As she finds someone from deep in her past and discovers the truth about what's really stirring within, Connie will go on a wild path of discovery that will lead her from her suburban streets, all the way to the Sydney Opera House. And Physie's biggest stage.

Eyes will be opened, hearts will soar, feet will dance… and brilliant lights will shine. And no one will ever need to keep them hidden, ever again.

The Party

The Party

Playwright: Katy Warner

The third play was The Party by Katy Warner. We're at the Lodge. And Valeria Pendergast is Prime Minister. Or she is. For the moment. The Polls are bad, the Party is mad and the Opposition are gunning for a fight. Valeria looks set to be the collateral damage in yet another leadership spill.

But this is not going to be any ordinary Spill.

This is an Opportunity. Not just for the Party but for Valeria, herself.

She might be Prime Minister but the Party know what's best.

They just have to get her to see reason...

Deoxyribo-Whatever Acid

Deoxyribo-Whatever Acid

Playwright: Brooke Robinson

The first play was Deoxyribo-Whatever Acid by Brooke Robinson. Between the rise of conspiracy theories and diminishing public trust in experts – it's a tough time to be a scientist. 2020 is not a good moment in history to be part of the elite, and from eugenics to neurosexism, white men at Western institutions can't deny that they've always had a monopoly over what counts as scientific evidence and proven fact. If the scientists are biased, and how can they not be, should we trust the information they produce?

Martin and Katya are two Sydney scientists confident their 20-year longitudinal genetic study will soon yield a cure for Parkinson's disease. And what could be more benevolent and apolitical than curing Parkinson's disease?