Mandala.India.1984 (Photo credit – Noel Olken)
Noel is an actor and artist. He is also a director-producer-writer-musician-artist and all around creative spirit.
Noel started acting in community theatre when he was seven years old. He is now celebrating over 50 years of practicing what is one of the oldest and most rewarding professions. He has been playing guitar since he was nine.
Still driven by a passion to create and play, he continues to study his craft and act in film and television, along with the occasional theatre production.
There were times in the last 50 years where he stopped acting to pursue other creative endeavors – like traveling and working behind the camera in the film industry.
He spent most of his twenties traveling around the US and Europe, before settling down in Paris, France to study mime and theatre. He lived in Paris for almost five years, supporting himself by playing music, performing on the streets and teaching English.
He had the opportunity to study with the world renowned actor and master of movement and corporeal mime, Etienne Decroux. After a short time with “le maitre”, he then spent three years working and studying with Daniel Stein. Along the way, he did workshops and classes with many other great teachers of movement theatre, and a year at Théâtre de l’Ombre à Paris, a traditional French Theatre School.
After returning to the US, he lived in NY and Chicago, where he did as much theatre as he could. For five years he worked almost non-stop in the exciting world of Chicago’s small non-equity theatres.
When he was 35 he returned to school (Columbia College Chicago) to study film. That lead quickly to full time work in the vibrant Chicago film community. After a few years of PA work, he started working as a location scout, and then location manager. Even with the demanding hours that film work can be, after a few years he found the time to write-produce and direct his first feature film, Meditations on Trafficking (2003) – aka Slave.
“To me, directing a film is probably the most difficult and rewarding work I have ever done. When I decided to return to acting, it seemed so easy. I only had to think about my small piece in a project, and not be responsible for everything.”
He followed that by producing Cup Of My Blood (2005) directed by Lance Catania.
It would be ten years working in film before he got back on stage with The Black Forest Theatre Company and their original production of Henry Goodbar, Telepath. After a successful run in Chicago, and then taking it to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, his passion to be on stage was once again rekindled.
It wasn’t long before he convinced his wife, Kris Cahill that they should move to Los Angeles (2006) so he could pursue acting and film making. He and Kris lived in Los Angeles for 15 years. He had many roles in Film, TV and theatre during his time in LA.
In 2021 they moved to Portland for a year to try something new, but it just wasn’t right. He did get to work with the Imago Theatre Company in their original production of Julia’s Place, before traveling back east of the Mississippi to settle in Decatur GA in 2022. He is now getting involved in the Atlanta film industry and arts and theatre scene.
“At an age when most of my peers are thinking about retirement, I’m still looking to make my mark. I am still seeking, still searching and still very happy to be in the game. A lot of people my age are long dead, so I take every day vertical as another opportunity to create and make some noise.”
A true artist never stops, never retires and never gives up.