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The Green Room: Are there any roles you long to play?

Coveted role: Paapa Essiedu in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet. Photo: Tristram Kenton Coveted role: Paapa Essiedu in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Meet our panel: We have given our panellists pen-names and used stock images but their biographies reflect their real career details…


Albert Parker is 58 and has appeared as a regular in soaps, two BAFTA award winning sitcoms, theatre and TV


Tina Cerrito is in her 20s. She has worked on a number of productions in leading new writing theatres, as well as film work.


Rosie Montague is in her 20s. She has worked for major subsidised theatres, on national tours playing leading roles in classical productions.


Victor Winstanley is 42. His theatre career includes work at the National, the West End, touring and regional work. He also writes for radio and TV


Beryl Phoenix is in her 40s. She has played leading roles at the RSC, worked on new plays and toured both national and internationally


Jenny Talbot is 39, with nearly 20 years of experience in West End and touring musical theatre with occasional forays into TV and film

Albert Yes, but I never know what they are as they haven’t been written yet.

Jenny There used to be, but not so much any more. Teenage dreams and all that – I need some new ones.

Tina I long to play roles that do not mention how a character looks in the casting break-down. It’s not a nice feeling when the first line of a character description is “handsome”, “quirky looking”, “girl next door” or “not the best-looking of the bunch”. There is nothing an actor can do – it does make your heart sink.

Rosie I long to play Nora in A Doll’s House, because of the mad, historical significance of that play for women, I’d love to honour that. She’s such a well-written dream of a character. I think a lot of female roles are written (although obviously it’s changing and there are always exceptions) without flaws. They’re often idealised beings. She’s a flawed heroine.

Albert This is shameful, but I’d love to be in an Agatha Christie. Just for a week, and not The Mousetrap.

Victor Careful what you wish for. Depressingly, a lot of roles are in the rear-view mirror now. In my 20s it was Osvald in Ghosts, in my 30s Bobby in Company. Hamlet’s probably gone now, and the Baker in Into the Woods. I’d love to play Enobarbus in Antony and Cleopatra – that’s still possible.

Beryl Big, ugly, Greek shit, that’s my bag.

Jenny If a Jane Austen heroine came my way I would be thrilled (and booking some Botox). And some Shakespeare please.

Beryl This was asked by a teenager when we worked together, Thomas. I couldn’t answer it then and another teen suggested I should play Annie – I was 34!

Thomas The inspiration behind this question was Naomi Frederick: “There are no roles I long to play, just writers I would love to explore.”

Jenny Absolutely agree. I’ve just workshopped some new writing and it would be thrilling if it came to pass.

Victor That’s the luxury of being able to pick and choose, I think. I don’t get to “explore writers” but if I see a part I’d love to play I can get my agent on to it.

Beryl Yes, I agree. I also wonder: if we aim for specific roles and never play them, have we failed? I’m already so insecure – I don’t want to set that possibility up. I want to do good work. I know that sounds pat, but it’s the truth.

Thomas Jenny, your comment “used to be but not any more” – is that because you’ve played all your dream parts already?

Jenny Smug as hell, but yes. I’m very lucky.

Thomas Not smug – inspirational to hear.

Jenny A few fell by the wayside, but I really can’t complain.

Thomas Are there people you want to work with?

Tina Bold, interesting and innovative people who have something to say.

Victor At the moment, I’m up for a part in a well-loved play that I happen to think is terrible. But it would still be a good job to get.

Jenny Nicholas Hytner, Howard Davies, Marianne Elliott.

I’m interested in anything that makes me worry I can’t do it – then the element of challenge is there

Victor I have been so lucky with directors. I’ve worked with nearly all those I admired from afar. The list of actors I’d love to work with is huge.

Albert Anything that makes me worry I can’t do it when I read it. Then the element of challenge is there. Anything where I don’t come on for half an hour, so I can get ready late.

Victor I know what you mean, Albert, but I also think that when I read something and think, “God, I could play the living hell out of that part.” That’s exciting too.

Albert I prefer TV scripts that resonate when I read them and make me think. And anything where I am assured good laughs. I don’t like doing tears and sick.

Beryl Oh, that’s been my bread and butter.

Victor I just tend to watch other people doing tears and sick, and say “Oh dear”.

Albert I watch the tears and sick and then go: “Oops vicar, that looks nasty!”

Beryl I audition directors now.

Jenny That would be great. The boot would be on the other foot.

Beryl I have to feel I would like to work with them. Had a recent meeting that was badly handled and it made me think: “I don’t know if I trust you with this well-written play.”

Jenny Would you still do the job?

Beryl Not sure. I felt better afterwards, as the casting director emailed my agent to apologise.

Victor In my 20-year career I’ve met two actors I said I wouldn’t work with again. But if the job were good enough, of course I would.

Albert There are people I wouldn’t waste my time on again.

Beryl I have turned stuff down because I haven’t trusted directors. If I know more about the play than they do in an audition, it’s not a great sign. Life is short – why waste our time working with crap people?

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