First Nations Theatre at La Mama

La Mama has a strong history of proactively nurturing First Nations theatre, including our continuous collaborations with ILBIJERRI since the late ’90s. In 2012, Artistic Director Liz Jones was awarded an AO for her ‘promotion of Indigenous playwrights and actors, and to the community.’ This priority has been central to La Mama for decades and continues to strengthen.

Over the next four years, La Mama will continue this vision by increasing and meeting the capacity of its First Nations content within its organisational structure. La Mama will provide a platform to create, challenge and inspire Aboriginal theatre by Indigenous artists which gives voice to all language groups in Australia. Especially Victorian Indigenous language groups.

La Mama’s First Nations Producer (appointed in 2021), will design a First Nations Strategy in line with a Reconciliation Action Plan which will increase Indigenous opportunities, by providing community members the artistic and technical skills to participate in the development of the First Nations Theatre Program. This role will oversee and support the implementation of all Indigenous content within the structure of La Mama’s organisation, this ensures the capacity to meet this increased Indigenous need.

La Mama’s First Nations Producer, Glenn Shea.
Image by Darren Gill

La Mama has the space to support Victorian Indigenous communities’ needs to share their story, songs and dances and will invest in the needs to increase Indigenous audience participation.

La Mama understands that Indigenous voices and stories need to come from an Indigenous standpoint perspective and acknowledges and respects the cultural process that Indigenous people need to go on to value their place in a society that has undervalued them.

La Mama understands that it is not our cultural responsibility to tell the Indigenous stories, songs and dances, instead recognising as an organisation that we have the capacity to provide the venue space and managerial skills to assist in building a strong, vibrant First Nations performing arts sector which can/is sustainable, through Indigenous programming and can/will support Indigenous artistic vision to support strong economic development for our Victoria Indigenous community members.

The Indigenous Strategy, created by First Nations Producer Glenn Shea, Elder/Respected Person and Community Person of the Year NAIDOC 2016/2020, Wathaurong Aboriginal Community/Coop, highlights the values that lead La Mama’s First Nations Theatre program. They are The Power of Language, Indigenous Protocols and Ways of Working, Self-determination, Respect and Indigenous Diversity.

Through all operations, La Mama is committed to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Framework (DHHS). The key elements are: Knowledge and respect for self, Knowledge of and respect for Aboriginal people, A commitment to redesigning organisations and systems to reduce racism and discrimination. The key domains for action are: Creating a culturally safe workplace and organisation; Aboriginal self-determination, Leadership and accountability. La Mama’s Indigenous Theatre Program includes Festivals, Mentorships, Seasons and Blak Stage. For more information please contact, First Nations Producer, Glenn Shea (glenn@lamama.com.au).