Female First: Pamela Rabe exclusive Wentworth Prison interview

As one of the most celebrated actors to be a part of Wentworth Prison, Pamela Rabe has garnered an incredible fanbase since starring on the show, despite playing villainous Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson.

We got the opportunity to once again catch up with Pamela to find out all about filming some hugely emotional scenes in the fourth season of the show, how things work behind the scenes with her co-stars and much more…

(A huge thank you to fans who sent in questions for this interview! We love collaborating with you. If you’d like your Twitter handle included with your question, you know where to find me…)

In season 4 we see Joan go from Governor to prisoner – how did you find that transition?

Pretty challenging actually, is the short answer to that. I love a challenge, so it was really exciting as well. I think having played a character from the last couple of seasons who, for the most part felt pretty sure of who she was, as long as she had the bun and the uniform on, when that bit of armour disappears it suddenly becomes a much more tricky thing to negotiate. I was very intrigued with all the twists and turns that the writers threw into my past and did my best to embrace them, and work out how Joan would work her way through those things. Read More

From Wentworth’s Freak to heart of Tennessee Williams’ fragile clan

A towering dramatic presence brings a fresh perspective to a classic take on family dynamics.

Wentworth Prison governor Joan Ferguson is a large and intimidating character. She wields her power over prisoners and corrections staff through manipulation and fear, much of it expressed in her looming physical form.

Amanda Wingfield, by contrast, is described as a little woman, but powerful. Tennessee Williams writes in his directions for The Glass Menagerie that while the character of Amanda is unwittingly cruel at times, she has some tenderness “in her slight person”.

“A little bird-like thing?” Pamela Rabe laughs, for she plays both Amanda and Joan.

Anyone who has seen Rabe in the television series Wentworth as the psychopathic “Freak” Ferguson towering over co-star Kate Atkinson– far more bird-like as Vera “Vinegar Tits” Bennett– will think some terrible miscasting has gone on for The Glass Menagerie.

Wrong: it is a clever strategy on the part of director Eamon Flack. Casting Rabe is entirely consistent with envisaging the grand emotion and dramatic presence of Amanda, once a “flouncing Southern belle”, as Rabe describes this central, imposing character. Read More

Pamela Rabe Unleashes The Freak

Wentworth: Pamela Rabe unleashes ‘The Freak’

Foxtel Insider would like to congratulate Pamela Rabe on winning the AACTA Award for Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama.

This is a testament to not just her performance but all those dedicated in her awesome transformation of Governor Ferguson aka ‘The Freak’ for Wentworth and is a testament to the writing, producing and acting chops of all those involved.

Foxtel Insider caught up with Pamela Rabe prior to Season 3 to discuss how it feels to play such an iconic character. Check out her response below.

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YOU DON’T RUN THIS INTERVIEW, I DO: ‘Wentworth’ star Pamela Rabe on Joan “The Freak” Ferguson

by McKenzie Morrell

Every story needs a villain and man, we’ve hit the jackpot! Joan “The Freak” Ferguson is one of those anomalous creatures you hate the love and love to hate. The character, who is played by the incomparable Pamela Rabe, was introduced in season two of Foxtel’s reimagining of the prison drama and let’s just say that Wentworth will never be the same again.

Categorized as one of the meanest women on TV, Rabe sets the bar (extremely) high when it comes to all things freaky. Sporting her black leather gloves and ice cold stare, she might represent the law, but whether or not she upholds it (in a humane and ethical manner) is constantly up for interpretation. Ferguson, who is arguably the best psychopath we’ve seen on our screens in a long time, really brings the thunder with strategic planning, and her twisted sights set on complete and total revenge. Between her manipulative ways (RIP Jodie’s eye), or her struggle for power (all hail Queen Bea), this woman ain’t going down without a fight– and a fight you shall have. Read More

Pamela Rabe exclusive Wentworth interview – “I’ll say it, what the f**k, I’ll say it!”

In the third of our four Wentworth Prison interviews, Pamela Rabe talks all things freaky, her villainous character Joan Ferguson and more in a hilariously honest and refreshing interview. Read on to find out what she had to say.

First off, going back really to when you first joined the show, what drew you to Wentworth and the role of Joan Ferguson?

Oo, that’s a tricky one. I suppose, oh goodness. Many, many things. But the first part of it, I would say, I’ve often, because of the way I look really I suppose, and perhaps the way I act, I’ve often been given the opportunity to play some great, very strong women, and often wicked women. Although I wasn’t a huge watcher of the original Prisoner Cell Block H series, I was very aware of it and of its cultural impact. And also Maggie Kirkpatrick who originated the role of The Freak, Joan Ferguson, is a good mate of mine, and we’ve worked together onstage a number of times, so I was very aware of Maggie’s creation, more as a cultural icon than anything but also the impact that it’s had, and I’ve had lots of conversations around that. So I was very aware of what the role was, but not necessarily in its detail or complexity, but just kind of, as an archetype. Read More

Wentworth’s Pamela Rabe: ‘People squeal when they see me off set’

EVEN though she’s technically on the right side of the law, Pamela Rabe who plays Wentworth’s Governor Joan Ferguson is arguably the biggest villain on TV.

EVEN though she’s technically on the right side of the law, Governor Joan Ferguson is arguably the biggest villain within the Wentworth walls.

And Pamela Rabe, the woman who portrays her in the third season of Wentworth, which won a Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Drama Series on May 3, says that it’s ‘a gift’ to play the meanest woman on TV.

“I can’t say I lick my lips when I read some of the stuff she’s going to do,” Rabe says of the despicable acts including torture and attempted murder her character undertakes.

“But there’s a professional pleasure in that, yes.”

Read More


‘Wentworth’, Foxtel’s reimaging of the iconic Australian series ‘Prisoner’ has been a ratings smash around the world and the third season is about to start soon. We caught up with actor Pamela Rabe, who plays Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson, the governor of Wentworth who joined the show last season inhabiting the role made famous by Maggie Kirkpatrick.

Despite our best interrogation, Pamela wouldn’t give much up about what will happen in Season 3.

Of all the characters in Wentworth, Joan Ferguson has to be the most iconic of them all. Did you have any trepidation before taking on the role?

No, just a lot of excitement. It’s a great role and when I got the phone call I squealed into the phone to my agent.
Maggie Kirkpatrick is someone I’ve admired for a very long time, and I’ve worked with, we played mother and daughter in a play with a very long extended theatrical nm. So I know her well and I’m so full of admiration and adoration for who she is, and what she brought to the creation of this character of Joan The Freak’ Ferguson.
When I found out N be playing this role, it’s like all your Christmases have come at once. Read More

Pamela Rabe | Doing Time On Stage (Feb 2015)

Pamela Rabe – Doing Time On Stage

On Parole from her jail role, Pamela Rabe finds a freedom in performing in Beckett Triptych, writes Tim Lloyd

Pamela Rabe would be one of the more unlikely stars of a hit television series about a women’s prison, Wentworth.

She is at the serious end of fine stage actors in Australia and has established a name for herself, late career, as a theatre director as well. She has come to Adelaide to take a lead role in a trilogy of plays by one of the 20th century’s most revered but most challenging playwrights, Samuel Beckett.

Wentworth is a complete contrast. It modernises the original Aussie hit TV series Prisoner into the 21st century. Rabe plays the nasty-piece-of-work prison governor’s role originally developed by her old friend Maggie Kirkpatrick all decades ago.

“I have really enjoyed doing that, learning a lot, having great fun and stepping into Maggie Kirkpatrick’s considerable shoes — and black gloves,” says Rabe. Wentworth, screening on Foxtel, has been a runaway success in Australia as well as in the US, UK and 20 other countries. A third season has been announced, and German television is making a German version of the series. The series took up most of Rabe’s time last year and she will start back on set after the Adelaide Festival season of the Beckett Triptych with State Theatre Company.

Pamela Rabe and Sandy Gore star in Footfalls

IN SPOTLIGHT: Pamela Rabe and Sandy Gore star in Footfalls

Rabe says this trilogy is refreshingly different from other versions that have put together Beckett’s short plays for stage and broadcast. “Because of the nature of the pieces they are often festival fare,” she says, “and they seem to get hogged by international artists a lot. So within Australia to be allowed the opportunity to perform in them is rare. I think the last time I performed Beckett was in university.

“Other than Waiting for Godot, a lot of what we see on tour are trilogies of short pieces that tend to be done by a single famous artist doing all three.” In this case the roles are shared by three leading Australian stage actors, and there is a rare chance to mix Beckett’s writing for women with his male characters who have a recognisably Irish male attitude to women.

Rabe is in Footfalls, with Sandy Gore providing the voice-off. Paul Blackwell is on stage in Eh Joe, with Rabe providing the voice-off. The main piece, Krapp’s Last Tape, will feature Peter Carroll.

“So this time we will have three pieces that collide in wonderful ways,” she says. Footfalls is generally acknowledged as an exploration of mother and daughter relationships, but when I ask Rabe about her relationship with her mother, she refuses to talk about it. “There’s no shortage of academic theses about what Beckett is and what he means,” she says, “and they are many and conflicting. I have no desire to give an academic thesis on what the play is about.

“I want to do the play and let it exist. As you know, Beckett is very prescriptive in providing the blueprint or road map in the way he wants it to be shaped.

“It is as though you are living inside a mind, a facet of his mind. But he is a showman, a man who loved vaudeville, and you don’t need a PhD to enjoy it?’

In Footfalls, Beckett insists on the character’s steady, monotonous pacing, nine steps up and back, a metronome to the passage of time between a daughter, her mother and a further presence. “These particular Beckett pieces are about decay and memory, and the construction of the narrative of one’s life and existence,” says Rabe.

“The idea is to create a place where the audience feels they can surrender over to a different kind of space, for a very short period of time.”


Source: The Advertiser | 19 Feb 2015