Malthouse Theatre acknowledges the Land and Songlines of the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin Nation.
Stories of M was created by Malthouse Theatre and launched 11 April 2022. Stories of M celebrates the history of Melbourne's iconic experimental theatre-making company, which was founded as Hoopla! Theatre Company, reimagined as Playbox Theatre Company in 1990, and is now known as Malthouse Theatre.
A note from Malthouse Theatre Co-CEOs Matthew Lutton and Sarah Neal:
In 2020, when the very existence of theatre seemed at risk, there was a rush to ‘pivot to digital’—to push live performance online in the hope of retaining the critical thread between artists and audiences when our theatres were closed by the global pandemic.
As we contemplated the loss of theatre from our lives, we had time to reflect on our history and to acknowledge that Australian theatre has a huge problem with amnesia. We spend more time looking forward to what’s new and what’s next, and not enough time looking back. The past can often be full of things we’d rather leave behind us, but at a time when the memory of theatre was all we had, we recognised our responsibility to hold onto that cultural memory, and to make it available not only for the artists and arts workers who contributed to the work contained herein, but to the wider public.
Stories of M is our digital response—a site to bring the extraordinary history of our company into one cohesive space. It is a living repository that showcases the hundreds of productions and thousands of artists that have been part of our story over 45 years of theatre-making. But the real joy of this site is the stories behind the people and shows—stories of the impact they had and continue to have. Here you will also discover the scripts, the show reports, the marketing collateral, and commentary. We have aimed to turn artefacts into stories. We now invite you—our communities of artists and arts lovers—to reflect on our body of work and inspire the next era of theatre-making.
With over 600 productions, Stories of M celebrates a proud history full of firsts and failures, of acclaimed moments and controversy. Over more than four decades of theatre practice contained in this archive there is work that argues with, agrees with, parodies, and provokes the dominant culture. Some productions have also caused harm. Regardless of the intent and context, we have made the decision to remove or annotate some of the images, references, and ephemera from the collection that depict racist stereotypes, including culturally inappropriate casting. While not wishing to deny our history, this decision is to reduce further harm to communities who were or may be impacted by these productions.
We hope Stories of M will catalyse new conversations as we consider the ways that theatre practice, and our society, has changed over time. The ability to reflect on the questions and ideas that have occupied theatre artists over more than forty years provides rich territory to invite exploration, remembrance, reckoning and evolution.
We are proud to share our powerful history of theatre-making as we look to the future of theatre experiences here in Melbourne and beyond.
Thank you to the following contributors for your dedication, knowledge, and guidance:
- David Tredinnick
- Studio Bravo
- Dr. Rob Reid
- Mark Pritchard
- Ian Ramirez