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The Green Room: How do you use social media?

While social media can be an excellent means of self-promotion and thanking audience members, some of our panellists warn against engaging with those who are unduly negative. Photo: Shutterstock

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

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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

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

Gary Abblett is a 38-year-old jobbing actor with experience at the National, RSC, in the West End and on the road

Vivian Lee is 38 and has played leading roles at the National, the RSC and London’s Royal Court, as well as regular TV appearances

Peter Quince, 72, works in theatre and television

Keith Simpson is in his early 20s and since graduating from drama school in 2016 has worked on national tours and in rep

 

Beryl I try not to talk about work, although I do retweet nice stuff said by other people. I’m trying to not do Facebook as it’s such a huge scrolling distraction. Think Rawhide: scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.

Peter I use social media to gossip with friends about what we’re all doing, but not in a professional, self-promotional way.

Albert I’m a bit of a customer feedback person on it but it’s important to highlight the good as well as the bad, and I get my news from it. I always feel as if I’ve read the papers by the time I look at them, thanks to their tweeting.

Beryl I prefer Twitter for political content.

John Social media can be good for keeping in touch with people in the industry.

Peter I hear horror stories about casting directors taking into account how many followers actors have on Twitter.

Jon Yes. Especially in the US. Instagram, too.

Gary I try not to use social media for work. But it’s an excellent means of self-promotion.

Ketih I use Facebook for keeping in touch with mates or sharing the odd political post. I use Twitter to talk about work, to promote shows I’ve seen or shows with mates in. But I am rubbish at self-promotion on both platforms.

John I use it for occasional self-promotion, though endlessly retweeting reviews can be cringe-making. Maybe that’s part of our job?

Jon Some stars only seem to retweet people who tell them they’re wonderful, and I always think, ‘Haven’t you got someone to tell you not to do that?’

Peter Some people use social media very professionally, but I tend to scroll past that to more personal postings.

Jon It’s funny how many of us are reticent about self-promotion. If you’ve done something in collaboration with others that you want people to know about, it surely has to be acceptable to plug it, or to say: “Look what good reviews we’ve had.”

John It’s people who post “look what good reviews I’ve had” that are the problem.

Vivian I like using Twitter to hear what people think of a show I’m in. It’s more democratic, rather than living or dying by the sword of the big four critics. It opens up stuff, I think. But everyone has an opinion and that can be tiring.

Albert I love the interactivity of it all. But it does show some people up for the wankers that they are.

Jon What do you think of the social media guidelines you now get with a contract?

John Quite a lot of those contractual social media guidelines are justified. The producers should be in control of their brand.

Peter Actors are getting into trouble for posting when they’re on as an understudy.

John That’s a tricky one. Why should people not have the right to say when they are on?

Beryl I understand producers who don’t want people thinking the lead’s not on, but for those understudies it’s difficult.

John If the producers are worth their salt, they will have understudies who are as good as, if not better than, the people they are covering.

Jon One punter recently complained on Twitter that he was going to be seeing a cover at a second viewing of Jesus Christ Superstar. The profession piled in on him and in the end he said it didn’t matter as he preferred the cover.

Peter Managers not wanting the public to know when a lead is off is understandable.

Jon My main thought about the understudy situation is that it seems to overestimate how many tickets sold are walk-ups. If you tweet on the day you’re not jeopardising many sales.

Beryl That should be allowed, surely?

Jon I think, largely, it is. But sometimes there’s a blanket rule that doesn’t allow for context.

Beryl I know people have been sacked from film shoots for posting stuff on social media.

Peter Many West End productions have very strict rules, too.

Jon Do you interact with posts from audience members?

Peter I might retweet or like.

John I usually like rather than retweet.

Keith If it was positive and specifically to me then yes, I’ll respond. If it’s positive about the show then I will usually like or retweet. If it’s negative, I wouldn’t indulge.

Peter I know people who post too late at night after too many glasses of wine.

Beryl Never do that. And don’t go on eBay in that state either.

Vivian [Royal Court artistic director] Vicky Featherstone has retweeted negative tweets about her work. I admire that.

Beryl I have thanked people before. But don’t engage with the negative – you only end up looking defensive or precious.

Jon One opera singer retweets more or less everything said about any production he’s in, even absolute stinkers. That’s real dedication. Or passive-aggression, I don’t know which.

Vivian Or it is humbling. It’s democratic. People will fire off anything when it’s virtual. It forces people to see that their tweet has landed with a real person. It humanise

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