The 5-minute Interview: Nola Rae, Mime artist

'People believe the stereotype about mimes and clowns being sad'

After training as a ballerina, Rae, 58, turned to mime, studying under Marcel Marceau in Paris. She was a founder of the London Mime Theatre and was last week awarded an MBE. This Saturday sees the start of the London International Mime Festival

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be...

Doing a warm-up to keep fit. If I don't do it everyday, I'll seize up.

A phrase I use far too often is...

"God." I say it a lot.

I wish people would take more notice of...

The importance of being courteous and smiling more. People react much better to kindness than they do to shouting.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was...

Getting into the Royal Ballet School at 16.

A common misperception of me is...

That I don't say anything because I'm a mime. Lots of people believe the stereotype about mimes and clowns being sad.

I am not a politician but...

I wouldn't go to war so quickly. I would listen to people on the ground and see what they had to say. In my experience, when I was touring with the British Council they often had a better idea about what was going on than the Foreign Office.

I'm good at...

Bodging. I can do lots of things simultaneously, although not very well, and get away with it.

I'm very bad at...

Cooking. I tend to burn things.

The ideal night out is...

Going to the opera Mozart, and I'd go with my partner, Matthew.

In moments of weakness I...

Drink. I'm very fond of a good beer.

You know me as a mime artist but in truer life I'd have been...

A pianist or an opera singer.

The best age to be is...

27. I grew some wisdom teeth and I felt really fit, healthy and not too old. It was a good age to be.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

Perseverance. You just have to keep trying.

Ben Naylor

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