Pamela Rabe

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Pamela Rabe
Pamela Rabe (20057673862).jpg
Rabe at the 2015 Helpmann Awards
Born Pamela June Koropatnick
(1959-04-30) 30 April 1959 (age 57)
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Canadian - Australian
Occupation Actress, Director
Years active 1981–present
(film, theatre & television)
Notable work Sirens (1994)
Così (1996)
Paradise Road (1997)
The Well (1997)
Wentworth (TV 2014–)
Height 183 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Spouse(s) Roger Hodgman
Awards AACTA AwardThe Well
AACTA AwardWentworth
See all awards

Pamela Rabe (born 30 April 1959) is a Canadian / Australian stage, television and film actor and theatre director. A graduate from the Playhouse Acting School, in Vancouver, Pamela Rabe is one of Australia’s most highly regarded and awarded actors.[1] She is best known for her appearances in the films Sirens, Così, Paradise Road and starring as Joan Ferguson in the television series Wentworth.

Early life[edit]

Rabe was born Pamela June Koropatnick in Oakville, Ontario, Canada in 1959. She graduated from the Playhouse Acting School in Vancouver. Rabe relocated to Australia in 1983 with Australian director, Roger Hodgman. They were married in 1984.



Rabe is a prolific contributor to theatrical life in her adopted country in acting and directing, across a wide range of genres - musicals, comedy and drama. She is a long-standing collaborator with the Sydney Theatre Company and the Melbourne Theatre Company.

Some of her high-profile acting roles include Amanda Wingfield in Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie at Belvoir, for which she won a Helpmann Award, Nora Boyle in Patrick White's The Season At Sarsaparilla, for which she won a Green Room Award for Best Actress,[2] and Richard III in the Sydney Theatre Company production of The War Of The Roses, which also starred Cate Blanchett as Richard II.[3][4]

In 2005 she performed a challenging, Croatian play called Woman-Bomb.[5]

In 2010 she starred in the Melbourne stage production of David Mamet's play Boston Marriage.[6]

In 2012 Rabe received a Helpmann Award for Best Female Actor in a Musical for her performance in Grey Gardens for The Production Company. In July 2015 she won a second Helpmann Award, this time for Best Female Actor in a Play, for her performance in The Glass Menagerie.

Rabe has directed several high profile plays for Australian theatre companies, including the Australian premiere of In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), and Elling for which Rabe was nominated for a Green Room Award for best director on both occasions. In 2012 Rabe was invited to be a member of the guest triumvirate who programmed the Melbourne Theatre Company season for that year.


In 1989, Rabe made her film debut with a minor role in Against the Innocent. Her second role came in 1993 when she was cast in John Duigan's romantic comedy, Sirens with Hugh Grant and Sam Neill. Rabe's first leading role was in the 1995 film Vacant Possession. Following this, she appeared in Così with Toni Collette, Lust and Revenge directed by Paul Cox, and Paradise Road, a film starring Glenn Close set during World War II. In 1997, Rabe was cast in the leading role of 1997 film adaptation, an adaptation of Elizabeth Jolley's novel The Well, for which she received an AFI Award for Best Actress.[1] More recently she appeared in the Jasmila Zbanic drama film For Those Who Can Tell No Tales and she narrated the upcoming 2015 film, Symphony of the Wild.


Rabe has appeared on several Australian television series throughout her career. Her first was in 1990, when she received a guest role in the soap opera A Country Practice. Then she featured in a number of recurring roles including the family series Ocean Girl and The Secret Life of Us and a lead role in the short lived series Mercury. In September 2013 it was announced that Rabe would be cast in the Australian prison drama series, Wentworth, a reimagining of the classic Network Ten soap opera Prisoner. She joined Wentworth in Season Two as sadistic prison governor Joan "The Freak" Ferguson, a role originally played by Maggie Kirkpatrick in Prisoner. Rabe as Ferguson is seen as intimidating and evil and often uses a clever, non-physical approach in a way to control and manipulate the prisoners and officers alike, with little need for violence, unlike Kirkpatrick's character who mainly resorted to violence. Rabe appeared in both Season Two and Season Three in a leading role, as it was finally discovered that Ferguson is unstable and her crimes are revealed. Rabe will reprise her role as Ferguson in Season Four of Wentworth in 2016.

Other work

Rabe served on the board of the Australian Film Institute from 1999-2002[7] and is a former member of the Board of Directors of NIDA.



Title Year Role Notes
Against the Innocent
American Woman
Rose Lindsay
Vacant Possession
Lust and Revenge
Obnoxious Woman
Paradise Road
Mrs. Tippler
The Well
The Boy Who Feeds Cats
Voice; short film
For Those Who Can Tell No Tales
Symphony of the Wild


Title Year Role Notes
A Single Life
Margaret Bennett
Television film
Nancy Wake
A Country Practice
Marnie Rose
Season 10 - "My Sister's Keeper" (Parts 1 & 2)
Seven Deadly Sins
Ocean Girl
Commander Byrne
Recurring role; Season 2 - 13 episodes
Claire Bannister
Leading role; Season 1 - 13 episodes
The Bite
Samira Nazib
Rosa Campbell Praed
Eve Reisner
Season 4, Episode 18 - "True Colours"
The Secret Life of Us
Recurring role; Season 3 - 9 episodes
Season 1, Episode 13 - "Seven Letters or Less"
Holly's Heroes
Mrs. Rocacelli
3 episodes
Joan Ferguson
Leading role; Season 2 - 4 (24 + episodes)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Format Association Category Nominated work Result
1997 Film AACTA Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role The Well Won
1997 Film Stockholm International Film Festival Best Actress Won
1998 Film Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards Best Actor - Female Nominated
2002 Theatre Helpmann Award Best Female Actor in a Musical The Wizard of Oz Nominated
2005 Theatre Helpmann Award Best Female Actor in a Play Dinner Nominated
2007 Theatre Helpmann Award Best Female Actor in a Play Mother Courage and Her Children Nominated
2009 Theatre Green Room Award Best Female Actor in a Play The Season At Sarsaparilla Won
2009 Theatre Helpmann Award Best Female Actor in a Play War of the Roses Nominated
2012 Theatre Helpmann Award Best Female Actor in a Musical Grey Gardens Won
2015 Theatre Helpmann Award Best Female Actor in a Play The Glass Menagerie Won
2015 Theatre Helpmann Award Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role – Play Beckett Triptych Footfalls Nominated
2015 Television Astra Award Most Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor Wentworth (Season Two) Nominated
2015 Television AACTA Awards Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama Wentworth (Season Three) Won
2016 Television Logie Awards Most Outstanding Actress Wentworth (Season Three) Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Pamela Rabe". 16th Street. Archived from the original on February 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Sarsaparilla steals the Melbourne Limelight". Sydney Morning Herald. 2009-04-21. Retrieved 19 December 2009. 
  3. ^ "Richard III, thy name is woman". Sydney Morning Herald. January 5, 2009. Retrieved August 24, 2010. 
  4. ^ Lalak, Alex (January 19, 2009). "Review: The War Of The Roses, starring Cate Blanchett". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 24, 2010. 
  5. ^ Womb with a view
  6. ^ Croggon, Alison (June 11, 2010). "Pamela Rabe on a roll as a woman behaving badly". The Australian. Retrieved August 24, 2010. 
  7. ^ "National Institute of Dramatic Art". 2010. Retrieved August 24, 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • IMDb - Pamela Rabe