The Pram Factory was a theatre space in Drummond Street Carlton, in Melbourne. It came to prominence as the base for the Australian Performing Group (APG) in the 1970s.  The buildings were originally an old livery stable but the premises had last been used to manufacture Paramount prams. Retaining the link with past through the name, the premises were adapted as a base for performances and exhibitions opening its doors in December 1970. The main stage was in the upstairs area, known as the Front Theatre,seating up to a 150 people. In 1973 the Back Theatre was opened. This was a smaller space seating about 75 people and was used as a venue for more experimental works.

The Pram Factory came into being as a theatre space through the collaboration of two groups, New Theatre Melbourne and the APG. In 1970 New Theatre was looking for a permanent performing space rather than continue to act primarily as a touring company. In September/October 1970 a member of the company, Dot Thompson, found a building in Drummond Street, Carlton that would suit performance and multi purpose functions. New Theatre's intention was to establish a base where different arts and allied groups could meet. As New Theatre was not in a financial position to take on the lease by themselves, Thompson approached the newly formed co-operative company the APG about the possibility of sharing the space, an old pram factory in Carlton. At this time the members of APG formerly known as the La Mama Group were looking for a performance space that could act as their base. They had been performing at la Mama but La Mama was open to submission on the understanding that no group was resident or took priority. The two organizations acquired the building with the shared intention of establishing a space designed to `provide areas for radical and socially relevant theatre'.

The members of the two groups wanted to produce a show in the new space as quickly as possible. New Theatre had produced a very successful production of Athol Fugard's Blood Knot (1963) earlier in the year at Centre 63. The production was critically and financially very successful. The show was remounted again as the first production at the new space that became known as the Pram Factory.  It was performed under fairly rough conditions -- they were still painting the walls. The second season was equally successful, critically and financially paying the first rent on the new theatre space.  The next play performed by New Theatre in the Pram Factory, this time as the first production in the Back Theatre, was If There weren't Any Blacks You'd have to invent Them by Johnny Speight in February and March 1971. The first APG production at the Pram Factory was Marvellous Melbourne. In December 1970 there was a tryout season of the play and then in March 1971 the company presented the show with considerable success. Within the first year of its operation the Pram Factory came to negative attention by the Health Department who closed the space. Members of the APG then raised money to refurbish the space and from then on they had primary control of the operations of the space. The theatre continued to be a major venue for new and experimental theatre until the late 1970s. It was demolished in the 1980s.

Extra Reading:

Leonard Radic, The State of Play
David Stratton, The Last New Wave
Peter Holloway (ed.), Contemporary Australian Drama: Perspectives since 1955
Leslie Rees, A History of Australian Drama: Australian Drama in the 1970's.