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La Mama
28 Oct 2009
Published To
Description

In 1967 Betty Burstall established La Mama at 205 Faraday Street, Carlton (Melbourne). Soon after she explained:

“La Mama is essentially a playwright’s theatre; a place where new ideas, new ways of expression can be tried out; a place where you can hear what people are thinking and feeling”.

Once an underwear factory, this unique building has National Trust status as a theatre and its precinct has State Heritage Listing. The venue is flexible and intimate, seating up to 50, with a leafy courtyard as its foyer. During winter, audiences gather around the cosy indoor and outdoor fireplaces and, all year round, they enjoy the complimentary tea and coffee and La Mama’s famous hospitality. This has been further enhanced in recent years with both venues now running licensed bars.

Theatre artists love to work in the malleable La Mama space where productions have carte blanche to transform its tensile walls, floor and ceiling, with many utilising the rear laneway, the courtyard garden and open street front car park. Over the years the upstairs office has also been a space of choice, whilst others have moved audiences into the nearby streets of Carlton.

La Mama’s model of giving artists up front 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 relatively high volume of activity, across two venues, in any one year.

Since La Mama first began as a theatre company in 1967 it has staged 1700 new works. It has given experienced and emerging theatre makers the opportunity to develop their talents and inspire audiences with their gritty and innovative works.

For artists and audiences alike, La Mama offers a haven of humanity in a frequently detached and mediated world. It is small, it is real and it’s all about the dynamic tension between the performer and the audience.

La Mama continues to thrive because it is needed.

Tags
Theatre Accessibility Art La Mama Melbourne Social Inclusion
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