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Green Room: What special skills are on your CV – and can you do them?

Photos: Shutterstock/Flickr/Marco Verch/Flickr/C Watts

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

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

Abi Egerman is in her 20s and has appeared at the Old Vic, the National Theatre, and in regional rep


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

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

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

Peter Quince is a 72-year-old actor working in theatre and television


PeterNone, and no I can’t.

Albert Don’t lie – you could waste a whole film unit’s time.

John The classic: ‘Horse riding’. I have sat on a horse a few times.

Beryl Badminton – and yes I can and do.

John Bloody love badminton. Never had to use it for an acting job though.

Beryl In German abstract theatre they used to do it over scenes of Chekhov.

Peter Badminton could mean horse riding too, of course…

Abi I refreshed my memory re my CV this morning and found a common theme – I can technically ‘do’ all the things on my CV (swim, cycle, run, kayak) but would I say I am ‘skilled’ at them? No. And would I want to be filmed doing them and/or do them in front of an audience? Also, no.

Gary Cricket – yes. Juggling – yes. General American accent – no. Although I haven’t ever been asked for one.

‘The only way to prepare was sitting in my kitchen using a broom as the cello and a carving knife as the bow’

John My accents are probably not as good as my badminton.

Albert I think fire-eating is still on my CV. I did some lessons at drama school, and swallowed two flaming torches during a children’s theatre profit-share project.
These days I’d be hard pressed to get my lips around a Benson and Hedges.

JonI’ll start on the humiliating anecdotes theme… I played the cello from an early age until my teens. In my late 20s I had an audition that required me to play the cello. I had long since sold my cello in a period of skintness so the only way to prepare was sitting in my kitchen using a broom as the cello and a carving knife as the bow. Guess what? I didn’t get the gig. I then took cello playing off my CV.

John At least you ended up with a short broom and a stick…

Abi That is phenomenal.

JonThe bit I still can’t get over is that in the audition itself, after I’d played a very simple grade-one piece like a pig in boxing gloves, I still said: ‘Oh dear, can I have another go at that?’ As if I was suddenly, magically going to be able to play it.

John Oh, I know that mindset – as if you are going to spontaneously turn into Yo-Yo Ma.

JonIt was mortifying.

Peter An imaginative director would have used that in the show, Jon.

JonIt’s quite expressionist, I guess…

John A friend of a friend said he could horse ride when he couldn’t. He got on set and was promptly fired. Terrifying stuff.

Beryl Horse riding is the biggie.

Albert When I was young I was in a television series and an actor was brought in to play my dad for the final episode. He said he could drive a plough horse and cart. On the train to location he confessed to me that he couldn’t and had only said that to get the job. On the rehearsal the next morning, the horse and cart overturned. It was chaos and the horse nearly had to be put down. I felt very guilty that I hadn’t said anything to the director.

JonAccents, music, sport seem to be the main categories – anyone got anything unusual in there?

Peter In the old days of quarter-page ads at the back of Spotlight, there used to be a guy who said: “Specialises as waiters and court ushers.” And people used to do animals.

‘I got a CV once from someone looking to audition who stressed that she was ‘a good kisser”

Beryl No, super dull, me.

Peter I can’t even sing. I know actors who can’t drive. That must be pretty limiting.

JonI’m one of them.

Beryl That’s me too. I did a Silent Witness once where the crew bobbed down behind the car and pushed from behind as I pretended to change gear and set off. It made me very giddy.

Peter Good grief. Two in such a small sample.

Abi I can officially drive, but I haven’t sat behind a wheel for eight years…

Peter Two and a half.

Abi Can I legally still drive?

John I’d be surprised if you were able to get insurance.

JonThen there are the skills that don’t help. My degree is in languages and I specialised in Italian, but as a transparent-skinned Anglo-Saxon I am never going to be cast as an Italian.

Abi Although I would love to see it…

Beryl I want to see a pig in boxing gloves.

Peter Not always relevant. I don’t look Japanese, but I’ve spoken it on screen.

JonIn an early foray into directing/producing, I got a CV once from someone looking to audition who stressed that she was “a good kisser”. Which was funny then, but a bit depressing now. Also, she was, you know, barking up the wrong tree.

Beryl Why would you have that on your CV? (Kissing, not Japanese…)

Abi And crucially, which section would it go in?

JonBeryl, I hope it was a misguided attempt to say she would be fine with love scenes. But I worry it may have been more along the lines of an offer.

John That’s hilariously bonkers. ‘Oh that was a great kiss Sandra, you should stick that on your CV.’

Abi Did she have it starred as a special skill?

Jon Dryden Taylor is an actor, writer and editor of The Green Room. If you work in theatre and would like to join in the conversation, email greenroom@thestage.co.uk [1]

The Green Room: What defines an actor’s job? [2]