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The Green Room: What are the pros and cons of dating within the profession?

Actor Rosalie Craig and her husband, actor Hadley Fraser, when Craig was awarded a fellowship of Rose Bruford College. Photo: Rose Bruford College

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

Albert_Parker

Albert Parker is 60 and has appeared as a regular in soaps, two BAFTA award winning sitcoms, theatre and TV

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

Adam Lovett, 45, has appeared in Oscar-winning films, on TV and in theatre at the RSC, National Theatre, and the West End

John Pepper is 31, and for the past 10 years has worked extensively as an actor in various regional theatres, the National Theatre and in radio, television and feature film

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

Peter Quince, 72, works in theatre and television

Vivian Lee is 38 and has played leading roles at the National, the RSC and the Royal Court, alongside regular TV appearances

 

Jon Before we start, full disclosure: I am married to an actor.

Adam Does anyone ever make a pros and cons list before deciding to fall in love? You just do, and you get swept away by it.

Beryl It can get messy if it’s a ‘showmance’.

Jenny I would always advise against getting into a relationship with someone you’re working with – especially opposite. But on the other hand, I’m also married to an actor.

Peter It can be tricky if one is much more successful than the other.

Adam Hell is a home where both partners are waiting for the email from their agent.

John Running into an old flame at an audition is… quite something.

Jon Especially if they’re taking it.

Albert Not as bad as running into someone you’ve met on Grindr.

Beryl Or running into an old flame who is now a really successful producer.

John The acting business is a very small world.

Albert In my relationship I’m the show and my partner is the business. Thank God they are!

John When you’re with someone who is in the business they are more likely to understand the odd hours, rejection, all that.

Adam I’ve had some problems dating someone who wasn’t an actor when I wasn’t working much, getting into a rhythm of seeing each other, then booking a show and suddenly being unavailable six nights a week for six months. No matter how much you explain it in advance, when the reality kicks in, it’s brutal. You barely see each other.

Jon I’ve heard people passionately argue in favour of both sides on this one, usually depending on whether their own partner was in the business or not.

John Having dated exclusively in the business for 10 years or so, I’m now with someone who is not connected to it at all and it’s terrific.

Jenny I can’t imagine being in a relationship with someone out of this business, as it’s such a crazy industry. It would be far more sensible to be married to someone with a solid, secure income, but I’m clearly not that sensible!

Peter If you both do the same job, at least you speak the same language.

Beryl I’d say the pros would be shorthand and understanding, while the cons might be jealousy, and difficulty with childcare, if you have young kids.

Peter There’s a pressure group called PIPA – Parents in the Performing Arts.

Jon So, other than the above, what are the advantages of dating outside the business?

Beryl A freshness and hopefully a perspective on your ridiculous schedule. Keeping you grounded by not just living in showbiz land.

John As much as I love acting, it’s good to not talk about it at home. Also, more often than not, I don’t have enough space in my head for my own ego, let alone someone else’s!

Albert I don’t think any working relationship has room for two actors’ egos.

Peter I know several people who describe themselves as ‘stage widows’. They get very bored at showbiz parties.

Beryl My partner tends not to come to press nights.

Jon I’m leaning towards never having anyone at press nights.

Beryl We immerse ourselves in work, so it’s good to wash that off at home, and maybe healthy too. On the other hand, if you need to share, then the aforementioned shorthand can be helpful.

Jon Since I got married I’ve been away from home, more than at home. I have to say, I’m relieved to be with someone who understands why that is.

Adam Most work involves travel these days, so two actors in a relationship barely ever see each other. And if you have kids it can be worse. You sort of play tag team and alternate when you’re both working. And end up never seeing each other.

Adam I have a friend who regularly does long jobs in film and he calls Budapest “the graveyard of marriages”. So many films shoot out there for months and by the time you’ve come back…. oy vey.

Jon Most of us have friends in the business, so it’s not as if people whose other halves aren’t in the industry don’t have anyone to discuss it with.

Vivian My best friend is a ‘muggle’ and I know when I’m having a tough time he struggles to understand. He is sympathetic but gets alarmed with the emotion I’m showing – either dismissing it, or taking it too seriously.

Beryl My partner’s an artist, which helps – he understands that I have irrational needs, wants and urges.

John Having another person in the household who isn’t in such a precarious financial position can sometimes be helpful.

Albert That’s why you should shag the cast but marry the producer.

Jon We mentioned PIPA earlier – do we think the business could do more for parents?

Vivian Absolutely. Where are the creches in theatres?

Peter I knew an actor who married a teacher. Both times they had children it was he who put his career on hold. She had the more reliable income.

Adam Let’s not lose sight of the fact dating is a terrifying high-wire act – whether you date someone from within the profession or not.

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