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Nola's current productions


Exit Napoleon Pursued by Rabbits


Mozart Preposteroso


Elizabeth's Last Stand


Upper Cuts


Home-Made Shakespeare

Nelllie Pasta's Opera Cocktail

And The Ship Sailed On

Teaching and Directing

Design work




Nola Rae was born in Sydney and immigrated to London with her family in 1963.
She trained at the Royal Ballet School in London and then danced professionally at Malmö Stadsteater and Tivoli Pantomime Theatre in Copenhagen, before turning to mime and studying with Marcel Marceau in Paris.
She was a founder member of the French based International Research Troupe Kiss, co-founded Friends Roadshow with 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 Le Festival du Monde in Nancy in 1975. Since then she has created 15 full length shows and toured the world. Her unique combination of mime, clowning, puppetry, dance and foolery has been seen in 69 countries to date..
A great lover of the works of William Shakespeare, she created the extraordinary Shakespeare the Works with John Mowat, where four of the Bard’s tragedies were turned into comedies, and included a unique version of Hamlet for two hands.
She later tackled A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where the fairies were represented by puppet salad vegetables.

In 1990 Nola changed her style radically and began to present full length comic dramas where one wordless character is developed over an evening. The highly successful Elizabeth’s Last Stand, directed by Simon McBurney, is such a piece. It explores the loneliness of an old woman when she develops delusions of grandeur and tries to recreate the court of Elizabeth I of England in her living room.
This was followed by a two woman show with the contemporary dancer Sally Owen. Directed by Carlos Trafic, from Argentina, And the Ship Sailed On explores the clash of two women of different cultures who are forced to share a small cabin on a nightmarish voyage of immigration.
In Mozart Preposteroso Nola uses all her skills to present a clown’s fantasy on the life of a musical phenomenon.
Exit Napoleon Pursued by Rabbits is her latest solo show, inspired in part by Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. It deals with dangerous charisma and how to get it.
Home Made Shakespeare with the Swedish actor Lasse Äkerlund had her using her voice on stage for the first time.

Nellie Pasta's Opera Cocktail with Michael Popper is her latest production and is a farce touching on opera, a crazed fan and a fateful interval cocktail.

Nola is also in demand as a director, her speciality being subverting tragedies, by turning them into clown plays. She began with The House of Bernarda Alba by Garcia Lorca, performed by the Swedish all women clown group Teater Manjaña. They won the Swedish Humour prize for the funniest show of 1996. Other winners were Birgit Nilsson for her biography and Lee Evans who won the international humour prize. She has also directed Miss Julie by August Strindberg for the same group, a hit at the 1998 Strindberg Festival in Stockholm.
Her directing work in Norway includes Doña Quixote by Coby Omvlee and Ibsen’s The Wild Duck for the Oslo Nye Teater.
Her other directing projects include The Three Musketeers (the clown version) for Les Anges Perdus in Vienna and Dracula the Clown in Cluj, Transilvania.

Most recently Nola has been working with the Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón as movement consultant on his revolutionary versions of Massenet's Werther at Lyon Opera and Donizetti's Elisir d'Amore at the Festspielhaus in Baden Baden.

Circus Girl with photographs by the Indian photographer Sailbal Das and text by Nola published in 2010 by The University of Chicago Press, is her first foray into serious writing.

Nola also gives highly acclaimed workshops, seminars and lecture demonstrations, The Clown Speaks Without Words and Broaden Your Mime.

Over the years Nola has made numerous television appearances. They include a BBC Playhouse Special After You Hugo, where she played a French dancer who impersonates the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova in variety theatre.
She has been the subject of two documentaries : BBC Arena and Meridian Television’s The Pier.

Nola has received a Total Theatre Lifetime Achievement Award, The Charlie Rivel Award for Clowning from the Festival of Amandola and has been inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in the United States.
Elizabeth’s Last Stand was awarded best solo show of 2000 by Venue Magazine.

Nola and Joseph Seelig, were the original instigators of the London International Mime Festival, which has now been running for over 30 years and is the world's longest running festival of its type.

In 2008 Nola was awarded an M.B.E. by the Queen in her New Year's Honours List
for services to Drama and to Mime

("Member of The Most Excellent Order of The British Empire")