Peter Khalil: It’s sad to report that the beloved La Mama Theatre in Carlton was destroyed by fire last Saturday morning. Despite the efforts of 50 firefighters who attended the blaze, the fire gutted the heritage listed building. Thankfully, nobody was injured.
For more than 50 years, La Mama Theatre has produced cutting-edge contemporary theatre, with alumni including Cate Blanchett, Julia Zemiro and David Williamson, to name only a few. While the theatre is just outside my electorate, scores of artists do live in Wills, my electorate, and they considered La Mama something of a second home. I spent a fair bit of time there myself when I was studying at Melbourne uni. There has been an outpouring of emotion and support following the fire, which is testament to the importance of La Mama to Melbourne’s thriving arts scene. Of course, we amateur thespians here would understand and appreciate the importance of that space where they’ve created living art with the passion and excitement of live theatre. So I’m not alone in saying how fantastic it is to see everyone resolve to rebuild the theatre. I have already started working to see if there are organisations that could provide some temporary venues so that they can honour their existing bookings. The show must go on, so we should all try and support what is so important in the space of theatre and the arts.