Pamela Rabe is a star in Australia and now, Jamie Portman reports, the Canadian actress is coming home and bringing Virginia Woolf with her.
When Pamela Rabe left Vancouver for Australia in 1982, she knew she was embarking on “a great adventure.” But she still didn’t know whether she would make it as an actress. Today, she is one of Australia’s most acclaimed performers — with some 50 plays, six films and eight television productions to her credit. She has a devoted national following Down Under: teenage girls adore her and send her letters and wait at the stage door with flowers.
Yet in the land of her birth, she remains an unknown — a situation the Shaw Festival plans to remedy this summer when she reprises one of her greatest Australian successes, a one-woman version of Virginia Woolf’s classic A Room Of One’s Own, at the intimate Court House Theatre. For Rabe, it is as though the wheel has come full circle.
“What has happened is amazing, actually,” she says in an interview. “I count my lucky stars. It’s been an extraordinary journey.”
Rabe was born in Oakville, an hour away from the Shaw Festival, but was raised on the West Coast. She attended the Vancouver Playhouse Acting School and had roles in several productions at the Playhouse itself.
She also fell in love with Australian-born director Roger Hodgman, who was head of the school and later artistic director of the Playhouse. When Hodgman returned to Australia in 1982, she went with him. A year later they married.