La Mama Theatre is nationally and internationally acknowledged as a crucible for cutting edge, contemporary theatre since 1967.
Valued by artists and audiences alike, La Mama is treasured for its continued advocacy of those seeking to explore beyond mainstream theatre.
As a not-for-profit association, La Mama is producing work by theatre makers of all backgrounds and encouraging works that deconstruct and critique form, content and social issues. Described by its founder Betty Burstall as “essentially a playwright’s theatre, a place where new ideas, new ways of expression can be tried out, a place were you can hear what people are thinking and feeling”, La Mama is the home of alternative and experimental local theatre.
Cameron Woodhead, The Age
La Mama’s model of giving artists upfront funding to present work in a rent-free venue, with 80% box-office return, is unique in Australia. This model supports a high artistic risk/low financial risk proposition for artists and encourages a high volume of activity. In addition access to rehearsal and meeting space, administrative, marketing and technical support and ticketing means for artists, lack of money and infrastructure is no barrier.
La Mama seeks to identify projects, productions and programming opportunities which give a forum to a diversity of theatrical forms; play with, question and extend contemporary performance practice and aesthetics; redress social inequity by promoting social and cultural diversity; challenge, enlighten and empower audiences. La Mama seeks to prioritise new Australian works, created by theatre makers from all backgrounds.
La Mama facilitates the development of people, providing opportunities, pathways and creative empowerment on an incomparable scale. Emerging artists see La Mama as an entry point to the industry, established artists return to La Mama for the unparalleled freedom and artists and audiences from around Australia and the world come to be part of the iconic institution.
La Mama’s list of Alumni reads like the who’s who of Australian theatre including such greats as David Williamson, Cate Blanchett, Jack Hibberd, Graeme Blundell, Judith Lucy and Julia Zemiro. La Mama is proud to play a crucial role in fostering the distinguished careers of so many established and emerging Australian artists.
In recent years, La Mama artists such as The Rabble, Daniel Schlusser and Nicola Gunn have gone on to perform at the Melbourne International Festival and MTC’s NEON Festival of Independent Theatre. La Mama veteran Jack Charles continues to work across the country, and in 2013 La Mama regular Ben Grant was touring internationally with Robert Lapage.
La Mama is currently developing and documenting a 50th Anniversary book. For any further information, please contact our Preservation Coordinator, Fiona Wiseman, at [email protected]
La Mama’s Explorations season has been supporting works in development since 1980.
Creative exploration is at the core of all works produced and presented at La Mama, however the annual Explorations’ season of works in development is a special time of year when productions are given three nights in the space to explore their practice and develop their theatrical pursuits.
For many productions this is the beginning of a long and successful journey, with 2014 seeing Hello My Name Is….. (Dublin Theatre Festival), Waking Up Dead (fortyfivedownstairs), Death By Soprano (Spiegeltent) and The Shrink and Swell of Knots (Brisbane Festival) all having the chance to impress the wider theatrical community.
Number of Productions in 2014
Number of Artists welcomed in 2014
Number of Explorations Audiences 2014
“La Mama is the heart of Melbourne’s independent theatre scene: its supportive and open minded approach strengthens the fabric of Melbourne’s civic life. After graduating from NIDA one of my first goals was to play La Mama, because of its commitment to new Australian stories and promoting marginalised voices. It could be said this culminated in my Green Room award winning performance in Angus Cerini’s Save For Crying. Additionally without its developmental Explorations arm, I would not have had the opportunity to produced my solo shows which directly contributed to my current collaboration with Robert Lepage.”
Ben Grant’s The Shrink and Swell of Knots was first performed as part of La Mama’s 2011 Explorations. Along with a full season at La mama the following year, it toured regional Victoria and was part of the 2014 Brisbane Festival.
“La Mama continues to be vital to my practice and career. It offers a supportive place (both financially and artistically) for artists to grow and test ideas with a strong ethos towards risk and experimentation.”
Samarah Hersch’s META was first performed as part of La Mama’s 2013 Explorations, and went on to a critically acclaimed sold out season at the Malthouse Theatre as part of the Helium program. Samara was recently announced as the Malthouse Theatre’s 2015 Female Director in Residence.
“La Mama is without a doubt my creative home: it gave me my first real shot in Melbourne and kept having me back despite some of my most spectacular failures because it believed I had something to say and that it was worth saying. La Mama is the true and only democratic forum for the Arts in this country, and we need this polyphony of voices to sustain the relevance of live performance.”
Nicola Gunn’s Hello My Name Is….. was first performed as part of La Mama’s 2011 Explorations. It toured nationally (Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane) and internationally (Dublin Theatre Festival, Festival de Keuze Rotterdam) and won the Experimental Theatre Award (Melbourne Fringe Festival, 2012), The Blue Room Theatre Judge’s Award for Original Theatrical Experience (2012) and was nominated for a Green Room Award for Best Production (2012)
In 2014, La Mama presented 3 shows as part of Midsumma Festival, 6 shows as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and 8 shows as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. With Platform Youth Theatre, La Mama co-presented Stepping Into The Unknown, a festival of 15 new works by young Australian theatremakers. With fortyfivedownstairs, La Mama co-presented remounts of Mein Kampf and My Life in the Nude as part of the ENCORE Series. La Mama also debuted a new festival entitled Celebrating Women, a diverse season of work both celebrating the role of women in driving the creative process in Australia and giving a particular group of women the space to celebrate their particular talents.
“… the independent scene has led the way in opening the door to female theatre artists… The confidence and vibrancy of women artists today is matched in Jones’ attitude to La Mama’s future.”
Lonely Planet Guidebook, Melbourne
“It’s certainly rare to see theatre with this much on its mind, or with a better grasp on the subversive power of laughter.”
Each year, La Mama plays an integral role in a number of unique performance events.
In 2014, Tales of a City by the Sea premiered simultaneously at La Mama Courthouse and Al Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Center in Aida refugee camp in the West Bank. The play aimed to defy all obstacles, tearing down the walls, erasing borders and connecting communities under siege in Gaza, behind the walls in Aida refugee camp in the West Bank and across the seas in Melbourne Australia.
Also in 2014, La Mama took part in The Avoca Project with a creative development of Unlce Vanya in Avoca. This site-specific, durational new version of Chekhov’s classic play will be produced by La Mama and presented in association with the Castlemaine Festival in 2015. The work has been created by an exceptional artistic team of nationally and internationally renowned artists: Bagryana Popov, Maryanne Lynch, Elissa Goodrich, James Wardlaw, Natascha Flowers, Todd MacDonald, Liz Jones, Olena Fedorova, John Bolton, Majid Shokor and Meredith Rogers.
Also in 2015, La Mama’s association with Ilbijerri Theatre Company and the Minutes of Evidence project continued with the filming of Coranderrk: We Will Show The Country taking place at La Mama Courthouse. Having enjoyed 3 sell out seasons at this venue, and toured the production to the Sydney Opera House, the film will be a resource for teachers and students across the country as the story forms part of the National Curriculum for History and Civics and Citizenship in 2015.
Green is the new black and here at La Mama we have just released our Sustainability Action Plan for 2015. We want to reduce our ecological impact, and that is why we have developed a new strategy to lower our consumption of water and energy.
Among other things we decided to reduce the number of our printed season brochures, to continue to print only on 100% recyclable paper, to offer our audiences the option of online show programs, to lower our building energy and water consumption, to raise artists’ awareness about their energy use, and to develop new projects to make La Mama become an energy-efficient building.
To know more about La Mama’s commitment to be greener, please read our Sustainability Action Plan here. To give feedback, suggestions or have a little chat about this program, please contact Caitlin Dullard, our Company Manager, by email at [email protected].
The La Mama Access Program aims to engage the participation of artists and community members who face challenges in accessing arts and cultural opportunities.
As part of our commitment to improving La Mama’s accessibility, we are currently developing a Disability Action Plan to welcome all audiences. To those of you that completed our recent survey, your feedback is essential to this process and we appreciate that you took the time to complete it. If you have any further suggestions, we would love to hear from you via [email protected].
We will soon publish the results and the final version of our Action Plan, so stay tuned!
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT LA MAMA?
JOIN THE LA MAMA TEAM
VOLUNTEERS La Mama is a small organisation, which is regularly assisted by an invaluable team of volunteers. We welcome you to join our wonderful team of helpers. Any skills you have could be put to good use and it is a great way to get a feel for what we do at La Mama. It is also a great way to network!
Drop in to the office during business hours for a chat, or fill in our Volunteer Registration Form.
INTERNSHIPS La Mama accepts applications for internships from university and international students. To register your interest, please contact Caitlin Dullard our Company Manager at [email protected] with information about the type and length of internship you are interested in.
Contact UsPO Box 1009 Carlton VIC 3053
Office phone: 0393 476 948 [email protected]
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Find UsLevel 1 205 Faraday Street Carlton VIC 3053
Office hours: Monday – Friday 10:30 am – 5:30pm