News Page: ‘Demi-paradise is dead, Long live Demi-paradise!’
Founded in 2000 by Stephen Tomlin Demi-paradise performed indoor promenade productions of Shakespeare and other seasonal entertainments at Lancaster Castle from 2000 – 2016. See News page for latest updates and the company’s current activities.
Formerly the last castle in Europe still in use as a prison Lancaster Castle still retains a working criminal court, the oldest in the land. ‘Not only the north-west’s most important historic and archaeological monument but also of international importance’ – English Heritage.
‘This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle…This other Eden, demi-paradise…’
Demi-paradise was founded in order to stage Shakepeare’s Richard II in 2000, inspired by HM The Queen’s visit as Duke of Lancaster in 1999 to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the merging of the duchy of Lancaster with the Crown. Very fitting then that we should be commissioned by Buckingham Palace to welcome HM on her latest visit to the castle on May 29th 2015. Stephen Tomlin as director introduced and set the action, an extract from Act II Scene I of the play. Ensemble members George Telfer and Robert Garrett were respectively John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Lionel Duke of York. The action was played out on the steps of the castle’s Norman keep, with costumes designed & fitted by Fi Carrington. Performers & director met the Queen afterwards for an informal chat. HM expressed herself delighted with the entertainment and felt the castle ideal for the performance of Shakespeare, an opinion widely shared with our successive casts, creatives and audiences!
An ensemble of regionally based professional performers & technicians, Demi-paradise produced ten full scale promenade productions of nine Shakespeare plays in one of the most extraordinary non theatre venues in the UK. Work characterised by clarity and inventiveness in a particular series of varied settings. Every show used live music & song with the exception of ‘Othello’ which utilised a specially composed & arranged electronic soundtrack, while the last three productions were rendered especially distinctive in being recorded & interpreted by professional artists in residence.
In recognition of this Demi-paradise was short listed for the Equity Ensemble Award, one of the Peter Brook/Empty Space Awards, presented annually to UK fringe theatres unsupported by public funds.
The company’s site specific interpretations of Richard II (2000), Measure For Measure (2001 + 2016), Macbeth (2002), All’s Well That Ends Well (2004), Richard III (2006), Hamlet (2008), The Merchant of Venice (2010), Much Ado About Nothing (2012), and Othello (2014) have reflected the history of the building as a royal fortress, prison, court, asylum & centre of regional government.
Due to the restricted sizes of the various promenade playing spaces – courts, corridors, landings, library, prison areas, towers etc – audience capacity is strictly limited for health & safety reasons to just 60 ticket holders for each Shakespeare performance (Reduced to 45 in 2016).