NOLA RAE biography
Nola Rae was born in Sydney, immigrating to London with her family in 1963.
After training at the Royal Ballet School in London, she danced professionally at Malmö Stadsteater and Tivoli Pantomime Theatre in Copenhagen, before studying mime with Marcel Marceau in Paris.
She was a founder member of the French based International Research Troupe Kiss, co-founded Friends Roadshow with the American clown Jango Edwards, and was a member of the Bristol Old Vic Company.
In 1974 she founded the London Mime Theatre with Matthew Ridout, with whom she has worked ever since.
Nola premiered her first solo show at the Nancy Festival in 1975 and has toured her work to 68 countries to date.
Her early solo shows were in sketch format, mixing mime, dance, clowning, puppetry and controlled lunacy and included Upper Cuts, Some Great Fools from History, Future Fool (premiered at the Old Vic in London) and Bottom of the Garden which included her mad version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Bottom of the Garden, where the fairies were presented as salad vegetables.
In 1990 Nola radically changed her style and began to present full length comic dramas where one character is developed over an evening. Her current repertoire of solo shows are Elizabeth’s Last Stand, directed by Simon McBurney, Mozart Preposteroso and Exit Napoleon Pursued by Rabbits, both directed by John Mowat with whom she created the extraordinary Shakespeare the Works, a wordless evening of Macbeth, Hamlet (for two hands), King Lear and Romeo and Juliet, which toured for 3 years to 26 countries.
Other duo shows were And the Ship Sailed On with contemporary dancer Sally Owen, directed by the Argentinian director and actor Carlos Trafic and Homemade Shakespeare with the Swedish Actor Lasse Akerlund. She is currently working on a new clown piece, directed by John Mowat.
As a writer and director Nola specializes in turning tragedies into comedies. These works include: Garcia Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba, Strindberg’s Miss Julie, in Sweden, Ibsen’s The Wild Duck in Norway, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the Clown) in Romania and The Three Musketeers in Austria.
In 2011 she collaborated as movement and clown consultant for the first time with the Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón on his ground breaking production of Massinet’s Werther at Lyon Opera followed by Donizetti’s Elisir d’Amore at Festspielhaus Baden Baden in 2013, and most recently in 2015, on Donizetti’s Viva La Mamma at the Vienna Volksoper.
Nola is in demand as a teacher and leads international seminars and workshops in mime and theatre clowning.
With Joseph Seelig, she founded the London International Mime Festival, which will celebrate its 41st year in January, 2018 presented in 7 theatres across London.
She has been the subject of two television documentaries : BBC Arena and Meridian Television’s The Pier.
Her awards include the Charlie Rivel Medal for Comedy at the Festival of Amandola in Italy, Total Theatre Lifetime Achievement Award in Edinburgh, and in 2008 she was awarded an M.B.E. honour by the Queen of England for her services to Drama and to Mime.