La Mama Theatre fire

Today I speak as a former shadow minister for the arts but also as a Melburnian to express my shock and sadness about the burning down of the much-loved La Mama Theatre on Faraday Street in Carlton.

Mr DREYFUS (Isaacs—Deputy Manager of Opposition Business) (13:54):  Today I speak as a former shadow minister for the arts but also as a Melburnian to express my shock and sadness about the burning down of the much-loved La Mama Theatre on Faraday Street in Carlton. As the member for Wills and the member for Lalor have told the parliament, La Mama is an institution of Melbourne's arts scene, a place where many of Melbourne's famed actors and artists had their start. It's Melbourne's equivalent to New York's famed off-off-Broadway theatres, including Manhattan's La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, after which the Melbourne theatre was named. I've seen many extraordinary performances at La Mama, including one by my dad, George Dreyfus, in 1996. La Mama is a place that has launched countless careers over its 50-year history. David Williamson, Cate Blanchett, Julia Zemiro and Damian Walshe-Howling are just four of La Mama's alumni.

This is not an easy time for the arts in Australia, but one thing I know about Melbourne's artistic community is that it is resilient. It fights back and it rebuilds. Theatre lovers in Melbourne can breathe easier knowing that La Mama's artistic director, Liz Jones, has vowed to return La Mama to its former glory. I say to Liz and to the many supporters of La Mama: you have the full support of the arts community and the Australian Labor Party. La Mama has been there for 50 years for Melburnians, and now in these hard times Melbourne will be there as La Mama rebuilds.