This weekend marks a year since Carlton's hugely influential La Mama Theatre was lost to a devastating fire. In the early hours of May 19, an electrical fire ripped through the former silk underwear factory, which had been operating as a theatre since 1967. To call it a blow to Melbourne's arts community is an understatement: David Williamson – Australia's most successful playwright – wrote his first full-length work for La Mama, and actors including Cate Blanchett and Graeme Blundell have appeared on its stage.
But you can't keep a 50-year-old institution down, and La Mama is getting ready to rise from the ashes.
In November last year the Victorian Government pledged $1 million towards La Mama's rebuild at the original Carlton site. Now the theatre needs your help to raise the final $1.25 million needed for the project.
The plan is to rebuild the original building but also make improvements to ensure it's an accessible space. La Mama is also planning for a modest new building to act as a hub for independent artists.
Architect Meg White, who has worked as a performer and designer at the theatre for more than 25 years, has today revealed the renders for her plan, which is designed to recapture the original intimate set-up and spirit of the theatre.
La Mama is now asking for donations – of any size, of course – through its website, with a fundraising drive between now and June 30. If the funds are raised by June 30, the theatre should be on track to reopen in January 2021.
Need more intimate and surprising arts experiences to fill that La Mama void? Check out these six secret arts spaces in Melbourne.
All drawings, images and associated documentation are pending authority approval. Renders have been used to help illustrate the project but cannot exactly represent the final project. The final materials and finishes may differ from those shown in the images. Renders by Cottee Parker Architects.