Meet our panel: We have given our panellists pen-names and used stock images but their biographies reflect their real career details…
Dickie Benfield is in his 40s and has worked in the West End, at the NT, the Globe, theatres around the country, as well as in TV
Abi Egerman is in her 20s and has appeared at the Old Vic, the National Theatre and regional rep
Albert Parker is 60 and has appeared as a regular in soaps, two BAFTA-winning sitcoms, theatre and TV
Jenny Talbot, 39, has nearly 20 years of experience in West End and touring musical theatre with forays into TV, film and plays
Peter Quince is a 72-year-old actor working in theatre
Jon ‘Money’ is assumed…
Dicky The banter.
Abi Ha, I was about to say the same – camaraderie. Also, routine.
Jenny Adrenalin rushes. And having a second home.
Dicky Not having to pick up after my kids.
Peter I’m very lazy and can easily fritter away my time. I like the structure that a job gives to my day.
Jon Yes – although I’m generally more tired when I’m not acting, because so much time is spent rushing from one in-between job to another.
Albert I like to think that I am working every day. Just that some days I don’t act, but every day one is chasing things, prepping or other stuff. It can be lonely on those days – especially if I’m away from things in our second home.
Jenny I agree. The actual ‘job’ isn’t the work. The in-between is where the work happens.
Albert I miss other people’s ideas if I’m not in a rehearsal room or on a set. It’s so great when other people throw things at you.
Jon Do you get a lot of things thrown at you when you’re in a rehearsal room?
Peter I’m aware that I can become boring when I’m not working. I’m less stimulated.
Albert So often we have to come up with our own ideas and motivation.
Abi I definitely miss the feeling of purpose and structure. I agree that every day we are working to find work, as it were, but it can feel a bit rudderless.
Jenny Also, I miss dressing up and the make-up. Sad, I know, but I like looking like crap while thinking: “In two hours’ time I’m going to look like a French virgin.”
Dicky Me too.
Jon That I would pay to see.
Albert Not to mention people putting on my clothes for me in a trailer and making me look good, and driving me to work.
Abi I miss how physically and mentally fit I feel when I am in a theatre job. You feel on top form. Knackered, but on top form.
Jenny Agreed, Abi. My clothes fit so much better when I’m in a job.
Abi When I’m in a job, I drink way more pints and eat more crisps. I miss the excuse to do that.
Peter I drink far too much when I’m working.
Jon Yep. There aren’t many jobs where it’s totally normal to say: “Well, it’s half past ten – time to head to the pub.”
Jenny It’s something that I’m trying to change and think I’m succeeding at, but having a job used to really give me a sense of identity.
Abi Totally. It makes me feel so much more validated. I’m tying to work on not being defined by whether I happen to be in a job or not.
Jon That identity thing is so easy to fall into. There’s nothing worse than saying: “I’m an actor”, when a voice in your head is saying: “No you’re not, you’re not acting.” I think everyone has had that job that made them go: “Right, I’m definitely a proper actor now.” And it can be so hard when that ends.
Albert It’s very easy to let work define who we are, and we shouldn’t do that.
Jenny Yep. Now that I’m a mum, it’s not so bad – but I shouldn’t be defined by that either.
Peter I can’t prove it, but I think actors live longer than average and I think it’s because we don’t retire.
Dicky When working in the West End or on a long job, I love my dressing room.
Abi Great one, Dicky. So true. A third home in many ways.
Jon The best thing about a West End or National Theatre job is having somewhere to nap in central London.
Jenny Ha ha. Yes.
Abi I also miss Green Room interval chats. And biscuits.
Peter Too many biscuits.
Jon And we touched on it earlier, but I think having a show gives a structure to the day. I really miss that when I’m not working.
Abi I think routine and purpose are the biggest things I miss.
Jon In fact, as I get older I enjoy that more. In my 20s, I’d be the one flinging myself through stage door at the half. Now I’m like: “Ooh, half past two, better think about going to work.”
Peter And your day off is so much more meaningful when all your days aren’t off.
Albert Filming just fills the day, so one tends to look forward to when it’s all in the can. And then the next job, of course.
Jenny Let’s face it, life in a good job is bloody great. We’re so lucky.
Jon That’s a lovely note to end on.