A BLACKBURN man will be taking to the stage at London’s prestigious Globe Theatre, playing the lead role in Hamlet.
Shaun Johnson, 51, who was born in Ewood and grew up in Mill Hill, will be starring in Combat Veteran Players’ (CVP) production of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
Former soldier Shaun, who now lives in London, served in the Royal Artillery before coming out of the armed forces with a crush injury, and he later went on to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
He joined CVP three years ago, which at the time was a therapy group for ex-servicemen who were using drama to help overcome the stress of war.
The group went from strength to strength and grew into a Shakespearean theatre company, which has had support and training from the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Shaun has performed in famous venues including the Duchess Theatre in London’s West End, The Old Vic Tunnels, and the RSC Dell Open Air Theatre in historic Stratford-upon-Avon.
The company has become so successful that it has now been offered the opportunity to perform at the famous Shakespeare Globe in London — with Shaun in the title role.
Shaun said: “It started off as a sort of therapy, and we never expected this, but the talent was just awesome, and we wanted to share this with the rest of the veteran community.
“My ambition is to share this amazing theatre incentive with other veterans in their communities suffering from PTSD and to raise awareness of that silent invisible injury that has plagued man suffering after conflict since the dawn of time. It’s made a massive difference to our lives. Playing the Globe is going to be awesome.
“I’m quite nervous but everybody is really excited about it and a lot of exciting things are happening in the future.
“For me, the height of this would be to be invited to perform at King George's Hall, Blackburn, where I watched Suzi Quatro all those years back. That would be my personal best.
“I want to engage with veteran communities in Lancashire, there are a lot of veterans in the North West, and there’s not a lot of support up there.
“We’re trying to say to people you don’t have to be frightened of that horrible illness anymore, you can make your life better.”
Shaun will take to the stage on July 12. For more details and tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org