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Isaacs: Performing venues ‘keep the soul of the nation alive’

The 57-year-old actor spoke ahead of an online production where he will remotely perform scenes from two Greek tragedies.

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

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

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

Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs has praised the work of those keeping performance venues funded during lockdown and highlighted their importance as “the soul of the nation”.

The 57-year-old spoke ahead of an online production on Thursday night when he will remotely perform scenes from the Greek tragedies Ajax and Philoctetes with Lesley Sharp and David Elliot.

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

Earlier this month the Scottish Government committed £10 million funding to support the country’s performing arts venues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Storytellers can really stand back from it all and and shine a light on potential and path for usJason Isaacs

Isaacs told the PA news agency: “It seems odd because you know the most important thing is that people have food and warmth and health and stuff.

“But actually, you want to keep the soul of the nation alive, and I don’t know that any of us can particularly trust figures in authority.

“Sometimes it’s fiction, it’s storytellers that keep our hope and our spirits alive and tell us, show us who we might be, what we might become, why we’re holding on to things, what can be useful about humanity, and what to watch out for.

“Storytellers can really stand back from it all and shine a light on a potential path for us. Everybody else is in it for the short term.

“If theatres closed and other places that need funding close and performance spaces close then there’ll be many people that will never hear an instrument, never hear a story told, never watch a play, maybe not go to a library, not be in touch with history.

“They keep the soul of humanity alive as well as, you know, we need other things to keep the body alive.”

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Jason Isaacs on stage during the Final Say rally at the Mermaid Theatre, London (Yui Mok/PA)

Jason Isaacs on stage during the Final Say rally at the Mermaid Theatre, London (Yui Mok/PA)

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Jason Isaacs on stage during the Final Say rally at the Mermaid Theatre, London (Yui Mok/PA)

The actors in Thursday night’s event 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.

Isaacs said lockdown had been “fine” for him but he wished those in the industry were working again.

He added: “I’ve got a wife and two kids, I’ve got a roof over my head, I’ve got food and I’m not broke, which puts me in an incredibly privileged position, so anything I complain about is just being a father of teenagers or being a bit bored.

“It pales into insignificance besides what many people are dealing with and are going to deal with.

“I think we (actors) might be some of the last people to go back to work, I don’t want to tempt fate and pretend it’s been particularly hard for me.

“The hardest thing for me is inside my head, my circumstances are very comfortable and I’m very grateful for it.”

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

PA