Meet our panel: We have given our panellists pen-names and used stock images but their biographies reflect their real career details…
Eoghan Barry is 30. He has worked professionally as an actor on fringe projects and work for young people and more recently as a writer
Peter Quince is a 72-year-old actor working in theatre and television
Velma Lee is a 32-year-old actor, comic and improvisor
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
Jenny Talbot is 39 and has nearly 20 years of experience in West End and touring musical theatre with occasional TV, film and plays
Beryl Phoenix is in her 40s. She has played leading roles at the RSC, worked on numerous new plays, and toured internationallyAlbert Some new Lakeland casseroles, a new iPhone, a Nintendo console with Super Mario Kart and a bumper box of Hotel Chocolat caramel creams. You can split the list between you.
John December 24, still no offer of panto…
Beryl Trainers, always.
Velma I also want Super Mario Kart. I got a projector, it’s the dream. And a Le Creuset pot.
Jon They should have a range of actor cookware. The profit-share is a basic saucepan. All the way up to a massive Le Creuset called Star Wars Prequel.
Velma And a telly job.
Eoghan I’d like a year-long contract at Equity minimum, obviously.
Beryl Equity minimum?
Eoghan Or above…
Beryl Come on, Eoghan.
Eoghan I did mean at least…
John A personal trainer, so I can get in shape for all those massive Hollywood jobs I’m going to get next year.
Velma I can’t wait for those Hollywood jobs.
Albert World peace, more work, better Equity agreements where you don’t have to do a major film on less than £200 a day plus percentage.
Eoghan Do you reckon Santa could bring ‘fewer fascists’?
Beryl Fewer fascists would be great. I would like someone to buy me a BSL course.
Albert BSL? Better stage lighting?
Beryl Ha! British Sign Language.
Albert I can do two-finger sign language, which is what is needed for most Equity-minimum jobs.
Jon I’d like a special card you can play once a year (I’m not greedy) that puts a new job in place before the old one ends.
Beryl I’ll have that too, Jon.
Eoghan Excellent idea. I’d also like the ability to say just once: “I’m leaving rehearsals now, I’ve got to make my call time.”
Beryl I’d quite like a haircut, too. But mostly trainers.
Jon Just to widen things a bit: what industry changes would be the best present for you?
Beryl Yes or no [from casting directors after auditions].
Eoghan More companies doing as Paines Plough have recently started doing: putting their casting calls online. Stop hiding the jobs, it just contributes to this whole closed-shop idea. And, agreed: a yes or no, please.
Jon Manchester Royal Exchange always used to have a casting page on its website. I always wondered why more theatres didn’t – but also sort of knew why.
I’d like there to be more opportunities for working-class trainees. And equal pay: I’d like to get as much as Angelina
Beryl More opportunities for working-class wannabe trainees – including actors, directors, writers and designers. And equal pay: I’d like as much as Angelina, please.
Jon Equal pay, equal opportunities, lots of work, cookware, fewer fascists, and casual footwear. I’ll get on to the union and Santa.
Eoghan Is Father Christmas taking over from Maureen Beattie?
Jon That would be news. Santa joining Equity aside, what are our predictions for 2019?
John All the parts for me.
Jon We’ve done Christmas presents already.
Albert Actors want more money. Equity fails to get it. Regional theatre will be in trouble yet will survive. Far too many plays about Brexit and the post-Brexit world. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s new reality TV show – Is All Well That Ends Well on Twelfth Night As You Like It? – tops the ratings on BBC4.
Jenny More gender bending, more upending of certain theatre conventions, a lot of moaning about casting choices and a lot of actors proving the moaning wrong. I don’t foresee anything too traditional being in the mainstream for a fair while.
Peter There will be more gender-switched casting. There will be more parts for disabled actors. There will be more fallout from the #MeToo movement.
John More parts for minorities is a solid prediction, and decidedly a good thing.
Peter It’s difficult to forecast anything with Brexit looming.
John Very good point. I don’t think there will be many film and TV roles about until we know if we can work in the EU.
Peter Will fewer shows film abroad? Will fewer international productions film here? Already opera singers are being ignored for work abroad.
John A large amount of filming is done in the EU.
Peter They cast ahead and the uncertainty is off-putting – work permits and so on.
Jon Even without international work, if the economy takes the predicted hit, that’s not going to be great for the arts either.
John Arts are always the first to go.
Albert The arts will struggle – commercial theatre will continue to do well.
Jon Oh dear, this is all very bleak. Other than predicting a welcome increase in diversity, do we have any positive predictions for 2019?
Peter There might be more geographical diversity. Channel 4 is moving to Leeds. James Graham will write several more plays. He’s got one on Brexit in the pipeline – that might be the only bonus of Brexit.
Jon Hamilton will not close.
Peter Nor will The Mousetrap.