Meet our panel: We have given our panellists pen-names and used stock images but their biographies reflect their real career details…
Emily Cohen is in her 20s and works in theatre and TV as well as running her own theatre company. She is an associate member of a national company
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
Annie Walker is 25. Since graduating from drama school, Annie has worked predominantly in regional theatres and is a writer and street performer
Peter Unusually, I’m going twice this week, but it averages about twice a month.
Beryl I’m trying to go once a week but that’s only been for the past month because I earned a few bob. Like Peter, it’s usually around twice a month.
Jon Blimey, you both put me to shame.
John It comes down to cash. It has been a dry theatre year, this one.
Annie I try to take myself on a creative date once a week… Sometimes it’s the theatre but sometimes it’s a gallery or the cinema. The theatre is probably twice a month.
John I mostly end up going when I’m lucky to get a free ticket for a press night.
Peter A lot of what I see is fringe theatre because the West End is so expensive. It has to be a show I really want to see… and then I can’t get in.
Beryl It’s so expensive. And I hate paying for crap or mediocre work.
Annie Often it’s when I have friends in a show. The cinema screenings have made catching shows I want to see much easier.
Peter A lot of shows I see have mates in. And of course you can sometimes get mates rates.
Emily I mostly go to the theatre to see friends in their shows.
Jon It’s really easy to fall into a pattern of only seeing mates because you feel you have to.
Annie Do you think, Jon? I normally love it.
Jon Annie, I phrased that badly. I meant: ‘Only going to theatre because you have to, because mates are in it.’
Vivian Like most things in my life, it’s a matter of bingeing and then consuming so much that it turns me off the whole thing. I’m now in a theatre-free phase.
Annie I like supporting smaller companies and seeing work I wouldn’t normally go for. I have been involved in a lot more stand-up comedy lately. Does that count as theatre?
Beryl I would see much more theatre if I got invites to everything I had workshopped.
Annie Oh gosh. Preach Beryl.
Jon Excellent point. Or at least thank us in the programme.
Annie It would make a difference. Considering we have helped to shape the whole piece, but you know… whatever. I’m not bitter.
Beryl Nobody knows about the work done by actors at the development stage.
Emily I’ve done 11 workshops this year – I feel as though it’s an underground career.
Jon And how many complimentary tickets came from those 11?
‘Ticket prices have killed the idea of going to the theatre on a whim’
Annie I find it flattering to be asked, but it seems to be the new understudy bracket.
Jon If it’s not to see pals, I mainly go for people’s birthdays. And then it’s very safe, commercial choices. I worry that I don’t take a punt on things.
John Apps like TodayTix have helped.
Peter Yes. I’ve only just cottoned on to TodayTix.
Emily I’m 27 and just out of the cheap tickets phase – the point at which I’m supposed to be able to afford adult prices…
Jon Speaking of price reductions, it strikes me that I hardly ever bother to ask if there’s an Equity discount any more.
Vivian I never ask about the Equity discount. That’s a good point.
Emily I try to blag a student ticket most times.
Annie I always ask about Equity discounts and not once has anyone said: ‘Oh yes, of course madam…’
Jon Other than price, which I guess is the obvious one, what other obstacles are there to going to see productions? What stops you?
John Yeah, having the time to go to the theatre is a biggie.
Emily London living is so fast paced. And at the moment I’m a little bit off theatre, I don’t remember the last time I saw something.
Peter I’m not a parent, but that’s an issue for many. It adds to the expense.
Jon Ticket prices have killed the idea of going to the theatre on a whim. It definitely used to happen. But I don’t think people suddenly think: ‘Let’s go to see something tonight’ any more. It’s always in advance.
Annie It’s not just the ticket price either, is it? It’s travel, drinks if networking – food because you’ve probably rushed from an audition that was running late and are hungry…
Vivian I’m finding it harder to maintain my concentration for anything more than 90 minutes.
Emily I understand that, Vivian.
Jon Time and tiredness. If you finish at 5.30pm after an eight-hour shift, you may not think: ‘I’ll pop down to the theatre, see what’s on.’
John To then get back late and be up early for another eight-hour shift.
Annie Yes, in intervals you often end up thinking: ‘I’m tired now and have to endure the second half’, even if you’re enjoying it.
Emily Have you ever left at the interval?
Beryl I have.
Peter Only a couple of times.
John I left at the interval of a press night recently because I thought the show was rubbish and would rather be in bed. The show got a West End transfer, so what the hell do I know?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org