Meet our panel: We have given our panellists pen-names and used stock images but their biographies reflect their real career details…
Dicky Benfield is in his 40s and has worked in the West End, at the NT, the Globe, and in theatres around the country
Adam Lovett is a 45-year-old actor who has appeared in film, BAFTA-winning TV, at the RSC, National and West End
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
Peter Quince is a 72-year-old actor working in theatre
Jenny Talbot is 39 and has nearly 20 years of experience in West End and touring musical theatre with forays into TV, film and plays
Annie Walker is 25. Since graduating from drama school, she has worked predominantly in regional theatres and is also a writer and street performer
Annie “So you didn’t become a wedding dress designer?” But also: “Mwahaha, you showed them all.”
Dicky That I’m middle class.
Albert I think my teenage self would be rather pleased that I’m still working.
Jenny My teenage self, who used to listen non-stop to anything remotely to do with musicals, would probably be astonished by the fact that I’ve achieved all her ambitions. West End shows were so far away and somewhat intangible. To have been successful in performing in them will have absolutely blown my 15-year-old head off.
Jon It strikes me that we have a lot of ‘What would you tell your younger self?’ conversations as we get older, but never the other way round.
Peter Both disappointment and pleasure. Disappointed that someone of my ability had earned so little. But pleased that a boy from a small northern town had lived quite a sophisticated life, met a lot of fascinating people and – on the whole – enjoyed himself.
Adam Honestly, he’d be bloody thrilled. I never thought I’d make it as an actor. And many friends who were better than me at this weren’t able to. So, just having a career… he’d be delighted.
Albert I think your definition of success changes as you grow older. I’m not talking about compromising, but what you aim for is different.
Jon That’s so true. There are life experiences that we just absorb, so it’s easier to take them for granted. I wrote comedy for a few years – successfully – but the whole time I was doing it I resented the fact that I wasn’t getting acting work. But if you’d told teenage me that I’d have sketches on the telly, he’d have exploded.
Dicky I think my younger self would be absolutely amazed that I’ve lived in London for 30 years and I’m still doing the job that I love.
John Pleased I’d made it so far – but I think questioning the next step.
Jenny She would be very surprised but thrilled that I am married and a mum. That wasn’t on her radar at all. She thought she would still be going on theatre trips and gazing wistfully at the performers.
Albert I wouldn’t consider myself a success, but a young actor in a drama school recently said: “I’d kill for your career.” It did make me stop and think.
Adam I was such a troubled teenager. I had such deep neuroses and a dark struggle with depression. Just to be free of that. I wish I could go back and tell him everything was going to be okay.
Jon You kind of don’t need to, because it is, if that makes sense?
Adam True, the job I am doing at the moment is teenage me’s dream job. Literally.
John I have done four weeks’ acting work in a year, so I think my teenage self would be wondering if I should be working a little harder in my exams.
Jon Plenty of people with excellent degrees are in the same boat, alas. Good exam results don’t matter when you decide to do this ridiculous job.
Peter Yes, I don’t think my teenage self expected me to spend so much of my life waiting for the phone to ring. He might wonder that one of the other careers I contemplated – such as being a doctor – would have been better-paid and more socially useful.
Dicky I think he’d be quite chuffed, in all seriousness, that I didn’t go into the parachute regiment, which I put on my careers form.
Albert My teenage self would love the fact I now have a dress sense. No see-through shirts or flares. Although he might be embarrassed about just how much I shop in Marks and Spencer.
Annie That’s funny, Albert. Young people now lap up M&S.
Jon See-through flares? Racy.
Albert They were quite a revelation in so many ways.
Annie Most of the dreams I had for my career are happening, which is crazy, and I think a younger version of me would be quite amazed that it could actually happen to poor little her.
Jon I like how we’re all basically saying: “My younger self would be thrilled, but would also think I should be doing better.” It’s almost as if we’re… projecting?
John You’ve hit the nail on the head there. “You’ve done well but, why are you not in Hollywood?”
Jon I do – I think a lot of us do – find comfort from time to time in thinking: ‘Imagine if you told your 14-year-old self what you’ve done.’ It can help.
Peter I think we all expected to be quite rich.
Jon Yes, actually, my teenage self, privileged as he was, would be very confused that I live in a rented flat and not, like him, in a house. But that’s a whole other story.
Peter I have rich friends who still envy what I do for a career.
Adam I always try to remember to look at how far I’ve come: look down rather than look up. Many of my contemporaries are more successful than me. But many also never worked as actors.
Dicky When I do a theatre show back at home and people I knew from school come up to me and say: “You should be really proud you stuck at what you loved”, then that I think is a great achievement.
Jon I don’t think we know much about resilience at that age, but boy do you have to learn it quickly as an adult.
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 email@example.com