Carlton’s iconic La Mama Theatre was ravaged by fire on Saturday morning, sparked by an electrical fault under the stairs.
The Age reported that over 50 firefighters and 18 trucks were called to the Faraday Street location at 5am on Saturday morning, where it took around 40 minutes to get the blaze under control.
The building has been totally gutted, with the ground floor theatre and office/dressing room burnt out. The floor, staircase and slate roof have also collapsed, and the contents of the office (including records and artworks) have been destroyed.
Luckily, external buildings such as the bar remain relatively unscathed. The institution’s precious archives were donated to Melbourne University last year, meaning they were safe and sound away from the flames.
Despite the devastation, the La Mama team are doing what they can to ensure upcoming productions won’t be interrupted and soldiered on by holding Sunday’s Bully Virus performance at the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre. They’re still looking for a venue to host the rest of the season.
There has been an outpouring of support from theatre alumni and the community in wake of the incident, with people taking to Twitter to offer condolences and assistance to the La Mama team.
Such terrible news! But we are all rallying with you and ready to lend a hand and whatever necessary ! Sending love and very best to all the amazing la mama team.
— Chris Bendall (@cdbendall) May 19, 2018
My heart is breaking this morning. I just heard that the iconic La Mama Theatre 8n Melbourne has burnt down. 51 years of theatre, including 3 of my shows.
I love this theatre, the staff are beautiful people. Sending every piece of love I have to Liz and all the team xxx pic.twitter.com/FoXoZyLjaA
— Wayne Tunks (@waynetunks) May 19, 2018
— Martin Foley (@MartinFoleyMP) May 18, 2018
Devastating. Sending love to La Mama this morning https://t.co/beJwI1IeHx
— Jessica Alice (@jessica_alice_) May 18, 2018
— Circus Oz (@circusoz) May 18, 2018
— Griffin Theatre Co (@griffintheatre) May 19, 2018
— Rosemary Walton (@rosewal) May 18, 2018
La Mama’s first production in the heritage-listed building was in 1967, with the company celebrating its 50th anniversary last year.
The team are not breaking spirit and have hope for restoration, with Artistic Director Liz Jones telling The Age, “There is a future, we will go on.”
— Joe Hinchliffe (@joe_hinchliffe) May 19, 2018