After 2,135 theatre productions spanning half a century, La Mama is no more.
Residing in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Carlton, the 1883 building was gutted by fire about 5am this morning, leaving only the brick walls of the two-storey building still standing.
Modelled on the Off-Off-Broadway theatre of the same name in 1967 by Betty Burstall, La Mama was at the centre of Australia’s burgeoning theatre scene in the late 60s and 70s. This new wave of Australian-made theatre saw La Mama premiere works by David Williamson, Jack Hibberd and John Romeril, just to name a few.
A Melbourne institution and Australian cultural icon, La Mama has been spearheaded by Artistic Director and CEO, Liz Jones, for the past forty years.
And today it is literally a shell of its former self.
When I went to take a few photos of La Mama this morning, a small group of people had gathered, like mourners at a funeral. Looking at the burnt out building from the middle of the street, more than a few of us shed a tear. One woman beside me was openly sobbing. We all had faces of disbelief. None of us ever thought we would lose something as dear to us all as La Mama.