Meet our panel: We have given our panellists pen-names and used stock images but their biographies reflect their real career details…
Albert Parker is 60 and has appeared as a regular in soaps, two BAFTA-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
Annie Walker is 25. Since graduating from drama school, she has worked predominantly in regional theatres and is also a writer and street performer
Jon Naming no names, obviously!
Albert An older actor I worked with years ago had a ‘Wild Horses’ club. As in: ‘Wild horses wouldn’t drag me to work with him or her again.’
Beryl Absolutely. Couple of directors, the odd actor…
Peter There are certainly a couple of people I’d have to think twice about working with again. One’s a director and the other’s an actor.
John There are a few actors I would like not to work with! But if I saw them on a cast list I was also on? I dunno.
Albert TV is fine as it’s over quickly, but I’d check a theatre cast list for certain names.
Jon There are a couple of actors I’ve always said I wouldn’t work with again, but I think if the job were good enough I’d suck it up.
John Yes, me too.
Annie Yeah, I’d probably suck it up. People change and might have been going through a rough time.
Albert Or been on medication.
Annie And they might not want to work with me!
Albert Yes, maybe the question we should be asking is: are there people who wouldn’t work with us again?
Jon Well, they can get their own column!
Peter There’s a difference between people you don’t get on with individually and those who generally create a poisonous working environment. The second lot are worse.
Jon I think there are different reasons for this, too. My ‘list’ is based on professional behaviour, but someone I was formerly friendly with turned out not to be the person I thought he was. I’d suck up working with the people I found difficult to work with on stage, or whatever, but if I were cast with that guy I have no idea what I would do.
Annie One of the most generous actors I’ve worked with on stage was a muppet off stage. I’d still probably work with her because it is precisely that: work. And the work itself was enjoyable. But I’d be a bit stricter on not joining her at the pub.
Albert If you find someone’s working style hard to cope with, and it restricts what you do, then is it worth putting yourself through it?
Peter Depends on the bank balance.
Jon Yes, I’m aware we’re talking here about choices we may not have. After all, it’s very hard to turn down work.
Beryl Some folk are dicks, simple – like any workplace.
Albert I find that people whose work I don’t like tend not to be on my Christmas card list afterwards.
Beryl At least we – usually – get to walk away after the contract, unlike people stuck in an office forever.
Annie Exactly. So don’t hang out with them outside of work.
Peter Who’s fun in the pub and who’s good to work with can be very different.
Jon I guess that, rather than losing out on a gig, it’s a question of having the strategies to deal with people who are difficult. For instance, if you’re working with someone who could start a fight in an empty room it’s probably easier to decide to agree with everything they say.
‘If you find someone’s working style hard to cope with, and it restricts what you do, is it worth putting yourself through it?’
John I hope that I might be big enough to work with the person I don’t like and become very good friends with all the cast before they do.
Beryl Keep your power – don’t give it away by getting involved with bullshit and others’ insecurities. You can stay safer but ultimately… life is short.
Albert My heart has sunk on some telly jobs after seeing who’s in the next trailer. However, I once turned up to play the star’s boss in a series and I’d always thought he was a tosser – and we had the most wonderful time together.
Jon Would anyone ever approach a director or company manager to say: ‘X and I have a bit of a history, I’ll try not to let it affect the work, just letting you know’?
John I don’t think so, Jon. I’m not sure that ever reflects well.
Beryl No, I don’t think I would, as then you are influencing the person you approach.
Annie I wouldn’t, either. I hate drama. Ironically.
Jon Yeah, I think it would send the message: ‘I’m going to be trouble’, wouldn’t it?
Peter Some people aren’t nasty, just hard work. Needy.
Beryl And then you get the psychic vampires… sucking all the goodness out of an experience.
John I suppose we are lucky in some respects. As Beryl said, people who have full-time jobs have to work with people they hate full time! We might only have to do it for a quick show in Frinton.
Beryl Ooh! Friction in Frinton, eh?
Jon Plus, we can feed them bum cues, hide their props, put itching powder in their costumes…
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