Jason Isaacs in online performance of Greek tragedies to help charity

The actor, known for his work in the Harry Potter and Star Trek franchises, will remotely perform scenes from Ajax and Philoctetes on Thursday night.

Jason Isaacs is to help bring to life scenes from two Greek tragedies in an online production staged on behalf of a veterans charity in Scotland.

The actor, known for his work in the Harry Potter and Star Trek franchises, will remotely perform scenes from Ajax and Philoctetes with Lesley Sharp and David Elliot on Thursday night.

It will help support the work of Bravehound, a charity based in Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire, which provides specialist support dogs to former members of the armed forces suffering from PTSD and other mental health problems.

Bravehound has partnered with Theatre of War Productions for the performances of Sophocles’s work, aiming to highlight the visible and invisible wounds of war with panellists and an audience discussion afterwards.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Isaacs said: “Before Bravehound existed, Fiona (MacDonald) who runs it was doing various other charity things for soldiers.

“She’s been involved a lot and been doing a lot of stuff around (war poets) Wilfred Owen and Sassoon and making sure that they were commemorated, she’s been involved in the armed forces and various different aspects of PTSD charities for a long time.

“Theatre of War was something I knew from my friends who had done it in America and when there was a chance to introduce Fiona to Brian (Doerries, Theatre of War’s artistic director) and let it happen in Britain they seem like the perfect match, so I’ve been involved from way back when Bravehound was just a puppy.

“Whenever the opportunity comes up to be of service or be of use, it’s a rare thing for an actor to do something that isn’t self-serving, and this is using what little skills I have to put something good in the role and to kind of open up channels and doors to help heal other people.

“Bravehound is a terrific little charity… it’s not an exaggeration or hype to say that the dogs have saved their lives.”

Lesley Sharp, Jason Isaacs and Bryan Doerries
A previous Edinburgh Castle production with Lesley Sharp, Jason Isaacs and artistic director Bryan Doerries (Bravehound/PA)

Isaacs added it would not be “acting as you know it” and “just allowing this pain from 2,000 years ago to scream out of the computer screen so that people hear echoes of their own lives in it”.

During lockdown, Isaacs has been at home with his wife and two children, and he acknowledged his “comfortable” circumstances which he is “very grateful” for.

The actors will not have much interaction with each reading from different locations – but they will be led by Theatre of War’s artistic director Bryan Doerries.

He will also facilitate the audience discussion after the scenes are read to help some open up and talk about their experiences.

Isaacs said: “When Bryan first came over and we did it for the Parachute Regiment and a couple of other places in Britain, I tried to warn him that however well it went down in America, he didn’t really know British people and Scottish people and it wasn’t going to be happy clappy and sharing, and he went ‘I think it would be all right’.

“I couldn’t have been more off base. He’s so skilled, encouraging people to feel safe and to feel that this is the right place.

“The people who speak and share their pain or history or stories, it’s beneficial to them but it’s also enormously beneficial to the other people witnessing it.”

Bravehound founder Fiona MacDonald said: “Having co-presented Theatre of War performances over five years, we have seen first-hand the power of the production to stimulate conversations which are very difficult for veterans, and those closest to them, to have.

“It makes them realise they are not alone.

“We are grateful to the Armed Forces Covenant Trust, to the actors as well as our distinguished panel… for making this unusual and powerful experience possible.”

The event is free with tickets available by registering online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/theater-of-war-uk-bravehound-tickets-111553124398.

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