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 Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, in the West End and on tour
Ros Clifford, 30, is currently a deputy stage manager, she has worked extensively in London and regional theatre for nine years
Adam Lovett is a 45-year-old actor who has appeared in film, BAFTA-winning TV, at the RSC, National and West End
Charlotte Osmand is in her 30s and has worked as a stage manager at venues across the UK, as well as in event management
Albert Parker is 60 and has appeared as a regular in soaps, two BAFTA-winning sitcoms, theatre and TV
Peter Quince is a 72-year-old actor working in theatre and television
Albert Do we mean match fit as in ‘ready to work’? Or match fit as in just feeding the squirrels in the park?
Peter I’m not staying match fit in any meaningful way. Not like a singer or dancer.
Adam I have time to read, watch movies, and catch up with box sets, all of which fires my imagination. I was a bit burnt out before. I think time to meander and dream is so useful as an actor.
Charlotte I suppose I’m just trying to stay fit, eat well and not drink too much.
Gary I’m trying not to get fatter or more dependent on alcohol. That’s about it, really.
Peter Let’s face it: theatre isn’t going to be up and running for months and, when it does, actors in their 70s are going to be the last to be employed.
Albert The thing that I love is that I’ve discovered the neighbourhood I live in. On my walks (brisk, of course, for exercise) I’ve discovered loads of new places. And we are so lucky to have lots of beautiful parks.
Ros For me, having the break is actually really beneficial. Having not really stopped for three years, it’s a good chance to rest and recuperate physically and mentally.
Charlotte Exactly. I was talking with some fellow stage managers yesterday and we all said it was actually good to have a proper break. I didn’t realise how on edge I was all the time.
Adam I find that if I don’t take time to get lost in the work of other performers, my own work suffers. So it’s nice to catch up.
Jon My usual exercise is walking everywhere fast, so I’m having to replace that somehow.
Peter But I am staying match fit in terms of keeping aware of what’s happening – via Equity meetings and things like that.
Jon I’ve had longer periods out of work than this (not for a while, touch wood), so I’m not worried about getting rusty. I haven’t sung for three months, though – I’m a bit scared of what might come out next time I open my mouth.
Albert I went out for a planning meeting on the job on Monday morning. It was so strange getting in the car – masks, face shields. It was very difficult having a production meeting, but when I got back home mid-afternoon, I was so invigorated by having been out to do something.
Jon Absolutely. The days I feel really low are always the days when I don’t really do anything. Even a bit of weeding or making a loaf can stave it off. I suppose it’s the whole ‘pursuit of achievable goals’ thing.
Gary A more successful, much more driven actor friend of mine said the other day: “I usually hate unemployment, but this is great – because everyone is unemployed.” I can’t imagine any actors with a bit of experience will become ‘less good’ at acting with time off... If anything, better perhaps.
Albert I think that’s very true Gary. The pressure is off. There’s nothing you can do about it so no point in worrying.
Peter Yes, I can imagine coming back and being fresher.
Ros It’s nice having the time to think: “Right, I can be doing this thing I don’t usually have time to do.” I’m doing a British Sign Language course at the moment.
I realise how much time I spent stressing about career stuff and it’s a relief not to be doing that
Jon The pressure being off is quite a relief, yes. I’m beginning to realise how much time I spent stressing about career stuff and it’s a relief not to be doing that any more.
Charlotte I’m trying to be kind to myself. As a stage manager, I am always multitasking and have a to-do list as long as my arm. At the moment, I have days when I feel completely useless as I’m not rushed off my feet.
Adam There’ll be a wave of faux lockdown nostalgia in the decades to come. ‘Do you remember how in the lockdown we played football with the Germans in the street?’
Jon It’s already starting. People are talking about March in a very ‘do you remember when we...?’ kind of way.
Peter There’s a danger that there will be no work for older actors, because they’ll be more of a risk for insurers.
Albert Perhaps all that work they do at drama school with young people playing older characters might come in useful for once.
Adam I have a friend on a soap who is older and she says they plan to start filming again with younger actors first.
Gary I hope you’re wrong, Peter. I really do. Youth is tedious. God, I hope you’re wrong.
Peter Maybe I should invest in a toupee.
Jon We don’t want people doing the bent back, talc-in-hair thing. I once saw a production of The Crucible in which the young actor playing Rebecca Nurse held out her hand throughout. I think she thought it was something old people do, rather than a mime of a walking stick.
Albert I think we should be grateful that work is starting again in any form, and that the more it gets a foothold back in life, the more chance there is of everybody being used.