Pamela Rabe on Wentworth and The Glass Menagerie

Pamela Rabe has built a reputation for playing the “heavy” roles in the theatrical canon – The Wicked Witch of the West, even Richard III – but for sheer malevolence, nothing tops playing Joan “The Freak” Ferguson, the sadistic black-gloved jailer of the rebooted Prisoner series Wentworth, airing on Foxtel.

Rabe, who is preparing to play a monster of a different stripe in Belvoir’s coming production of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, has recently finished filming the third season of the series in Melbourne.

“I’ve known Maggie Kirkpatrick [the original “Freak” from the ’80s soapie] for a long time now,” Rabe says. “We did a tour of The Beauty Queen of Leenane for the Sydney Theatre Company playing a mother and daughter. So there was some serendipity in me being asked to take up the gloves.”

On screen, Rabe lives up to Prison Officer Joan Ferguson’s unofficial title. “I felt like I had to earn that nickname,” Rabe says. “When the audience knows you’re going to get nasty, it’s all about working your way to that destination as interestingly as possible. It’s a great challenge.” (more…)

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