The Astor to La Mama: 9 of Melbourne’s coolest independent theatres
06.12.2021

The Astor to La Mama: 9 of Melbourne’s coolest independent theatres

Melbourne independent theatres

With the arts swinging back into Melbourne independent theatres over the last few months, shows of all shapes and sizes are happening across Melbourne’s slew of stages.

There’s something for all types of arts fans – movies, musicals and lots more. Today we’re having a look around at the coolest Melbourne independent theatres we’ve got, and the awesome things that are heading to it in the future.

If you’re keen to delve into more of the world of theatre, check out our list the best theatre and comedy shows heading to Melbourne this December.

What you need to know

  • This list features some of the coolest theatres in Melbourne.
  • There’s shows for all types of fans; plays, musicals and lots more.
  • This list spans the length and breadth of Melbourne’s inner suburbs

After reading our list of the coolest Melbourne independent theatres, check out the latest art exhibitions, stand-up comedy and theatrical events here.

The Astor Theatre

St Kilda’s Astor Theatre is one of Melbourne’s oldest cinemas, first opening back in 1936. It’s one of Australia’s only still remaining single screen cinemas – full of that old style cinemagoing; gold curtains lace the screen, a bevy of seating across stalls and a dress circle, and even the opportunity to see a movie in old formats.

There’s a mix of the old, new and different in terms of programming; the newest release, West Side Story, classics like Parasite, and even rare movies like Gorillaz: Song Machine Live in Concert.

You can check out some more info about what’s on at The Astor here.

Malthouse Theatre

The Malthouse Theatre has undergone a number of changes over the years, but it’s on the grounds of the original beer malthouse that was first built back in 1892. They are dedicated to bringing forward different points of view to the arts and aren’t afraid to bring quirky things to their stage. They’ve got two stages too, their outdoor stage making its mark during the MICF.

They’ve got some cool shows on the way to their stage in coming months, their outdoor theatre has cool shows like Yacht Rock Revival, the kind of show you can take your dad to. Their indoor theatre’s got cool things like a play version of Looking for Alibrandi.

Check out some more info about the Malthouse here.

La Mama

Carlton’s La Mama theatre has been a staple of the fringe and community arts scene for a number of years. Their intimate stage has brought some of the coolest musicals and plays to life that you’ll be seeing on big stages in the future.

Their little courtyard before you enter the theatre is great to enjoy a beer or two with some friends before a show.

They’ve got some pretty cool shows on the horizon – La Musica, Poetica, and My Sister Jill.

Check out more info on La Mama here.

Meat Market

Hence the name, the Meat Market started as just that in 1880, before ceasing operation in 1974, when it became one of Melbourne’s premier spots for theatre and arts events. The classic style inside will take you back to the early days of the theatre, with a lot of architecture still remaining from when it was a meat market.

Some shows on their way to the Meat Market include Into the Woods, and orchestral tributes to bands like The Beatles and Queen.

Check out some more info about the Meat Market theatre here.

Palace Kino

Once you’ve headed to the crown jewel of Melbourne independent theatres, the Palace Kino, you’ll never go to a commercial cinema again.

There’s a fair few screens, each with their own point of difference to some degree. Their premium cinemas have been lauded as some of the best, each have full seat reclining, individual tables, and even a footrest.

All the current movies are on their way to the Kino – Spiderman No Way Home, Dune, and The French Dispatch, also foreign releases like The Worst Person in The World, and Il Turco in Italia.

Have a look here for everything else happening at Palace Kino.

Red Stitch Theatre

This is one of the newest theatres on this list having only been opened in 2001. This theatre are focused on staging a mix of the best plays and the newest works that are looking for support. It’s a cool little intimate theatre that’ll make you feel like you’re involved in the shows taking place.

There’s a lot to read about with the Red Stitch Theatre, one of their most notable endeavours being their INK program, which supports playwrights who want to bring their ideas to life, learn more about that here.

There are a few cool shows on their way to Red Stitch that you can check out here.

fortyfivedownstairs

fortyfivedownstairs is yet another venue dedicated to bringing you points of view, shows, and art that push the boundaries, are thought provoking, and have a long-lasting impact on you.

In many ways, they epitomise what Melbourne independent theatres should be, a not for profit theatre who say they are focused on “making money for artists, not from them”, so you know they’ll have your best interests at heart if you ever want to put on your show there.

They’ve got some cool shows on the way to their stage; Death of A Salesman, HE/R and Nothing. Check out some more info about these shows and book in a visit here.

Cinema Nova

Carlton’s Cinema Nova has quickly become a staple for all types of cinemagoers in Victoria, their many screens are able to put on all types of movies. They’ve been around for almost 30 years and have quickly become one of our biggest independent cinemas.

They’ve got every movie under the sun, from all different spots and places around the world; these are things like; No Time To Die, Dune, Palazzo Di Cozzo, and even films from the current Russian film festival, the UK’s national theatre, and even a new horror film festival called Monster Fest. Check out more of what’s on here.

They’re also one of Australia’s only cinemas to show cult favourite film The Room, a movie often called the worst of all time. Check out more info on Cinema Nova here.

Theatre Works

St Kilda’s beautiful Theatre Works includes three venues; the historic Parish Hall at 14 Acland Street, which has been a proud supporter and incubator of Australian independent theatre for more than 40 years, the newly acquired Explosives Factory and the Black Box Cafe, all of which can host performances to varying degrees.

Theatre Works has always been committed to showcasing a wide variety of theatrical performances, generally encapsulating some hilarious boundary-pushing comedies alongside artful dramas and much more.

Head here to see their program and grab tickets.

Keen to see a movie outside? Check out our list of Melbourne’s coolest drive in cinemas.