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The Green Room: What won’t you put up with?

Bryan Cranston who was “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” in Network at the National Theatre, London. What gets our panel riled up? Photo: Jan Versweyveld

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

Gary Abblett, 38, is a jobbing actor with experience at the National Theatre, RSC, in the West End and on tour

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

Adam Lovett is a 45-year-old actor who has appeared in Oscar-winning films and in theatre at the RSC, National Theatre and in the West End

Rosemary Crackers is 50 and has worked extensively in TV, film and theatre for nearly 30 years

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

Annie Walker is 25. Since graduating from drama school, she has worked predominantly in regional theatres and is also a writer and street performer

Ros Clifford, 30, is a deputy stage manager. She has worked extensively in London and regional theatre for nine years

 

Ros Rudeness, disrespect and unnecessary lateness.

Rosemary Intoxication on stage.

Jenny Rudeness, absolutely.

Ros I’ve had some appalling behaviour aimed towards me in my time and I just won’t have it anymore.

John Being pushed to break Equity rules by a director or producer.

Rosemary Yes, I hate that.

Ros Me too.

Annie Anyone touching or looking or thinking about looking at my script. No, that’s a lie, I probably don’t have anything for this. I have a pretty high tolerance.

The profession is so precarious and most of us aren’t stars, so we dare not risk the big flouncy stuff

Adam I thought this one was going to be easy, but actually it’s not. There are a lot of things I can’t stand, but most actors actually put up with everything. The profession is so precarious and most of us aren’t stars, so we dare not risk the big flouncy stuff.

Gary As in: “I’m jolly well not standing for this”?… So what would you confront?

Adam Performers are resilient and often put up with terrible behaviour and conditions. I can’t think of any incident where I have drawn the line on the job and told someone in authority that I wouldn’t put up with something.

Rosemary I confront it all. It gets me in so much trouble.

Ros I would confront anyone being rude or disrespectful. I’d do it very diplomatically but I would do it. Many years ago I’d just take it and it was awful.

Jenny Producers taking liberties and offering crap money. “The only power we have as actors is the ability to say no.”

John Yes. There are well-respected fringe and Off-West End theatres that I don’t audition for on that basis. I know it probably does me out of working on some great projects with great people, but screw them and their £150 a week.

Jenny No to being treated like kids, no to bad money and no to bending rules.

Gary Selfish as it was, I once walked out on a contract because I thought the standard was abysmal. I don’t regret it, but it is obviously a hurtful thing to do.

Jon I get very bolshy about safety, having done a couple of jobs where I didn’t always feel physically safe.

Annie Someone talking while the director is trying to is quite annoying. Especially when the notes they’re giving are to you.

Rosemary I won’t put up with directors who have no sympathy with how hard we push our bodies and minds. If a director is unsympathetic to someone who is poorly, I really lose my temper.

Jenny I feel so angry in a rehearsal room if a director has a whipping boy.

JonOr a favourite. I worked with a movement director who was constantly going on about how fit one of the cast was. The cast member being a man didn’t make it any less creepy, although he seemed to think it did.

Jenny Yes. Both ends of the spectrum are bad.

Rosemary I am starting to be a little bit over being asked to be off-book before a job starts.

John “We’ve only got two weeks rehearsal, so if you could all be off-book?” No. Pay me the other fucking week and we can all rehearse the lines together.

Ros I get very cross about people not understanding the word “no”.

Jenny I also won’t put up with phones in the wings. I’ve kicked off about that in the past – in a different country!

JonPhones in the wings? I don’t mind phones in the rehearsal room, so long as they can’t be seen by anyone ‘on stage’. And are on silent.

John I don’t mind phones in the rehearsal room.

Jenny In the rehearsal room is okay I think – it keeps people quiet.

Rosemary It’s okay in breaks, or if you aren’t working. But absolutely not when we are actually rehearsing.

JonWhoa, people in the scene itself? Blimey.

John People having a quick look at Twitter between notes?

Jenny Awful. That is an absolute no.

Rosemary You know, it’s all casual, we’re all laughing, quick look at the phone, carry on…

John I worked with an old boy who used to listen to the cricket. He would change earphones depending on which way he was facing on stage. He didn’t get away with it for long.

JonI will confess to having Wimbledon in my ear in a warm-up once… but only during the warm-up.

Rosemary Warm-up doesn’t count.

Jenny No one has really mentioned bullying – but I guess that’s a no-brainer.

AdamThat would be a real red line for me. If a director or someone else in authority was being cruel, bullying, or otherwise humiliating someone, especially if it was a junior member of the company, then I pray to God I would have the strength to say something. It’s not something I’ve seen yet and I’ve heard amazing stories about senior actors who called directors out on this kind of behaviour. I hope if the time came that I would be one of them.

JonIt’s probably worth mentioning that it can work the other way around too – perhaps not bullying per se, but actors can certainly create a hostile environment for directors. I can’t bear the way companies can spiral from legitimate grievances into ‘and another thing…’. Those are the nights when I go straight home rather than sit in the pub and be part of the coven.

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