Demi-paradise is Dead – Long Live Demi-paradise!
Archive: Demi-paradise was founded by actor Stephen Tomlin in 2000. A rolling ensemble of northern based professional actors and creatives the company staged critically acclaimed and popular productions of Shakespeare and other seasonal entertainments at Lancaster Castle until 2016.
Current: Stephen moved home from Lancaster to Northumberland in 2017 and demi-paradise continues today as a company of old and new associates touring its bespoke small scale entertainments, Haunted and Winter Warmer, across the north of England and southern Scotland.
Demi-paradise presented ten full scale promenade productions of Shakespeare’s plays in and around the Shire Hall courts complex of Lancaster Castle. Every show used live music & song, with the exception of Othello which utilised a specially composed electronic soundtrack from Lee Affen. The last three productions were rendered especially distinctive in being interpreted and recorded by professional artists in residence; work later exhibited at the Dukes Theatre Gallery, Theatre by the Lake Keswick and other venues.
The company’s interpretations of Richard II (2000), Measure for Measure (2001) Macbeth (2002), All’s Well That Ends Well (2004), Richard III (2006), Hamlet (2008), The Merchant of Venice (2010), Much Ado About Nothing (2012), Othello (2014) and Measure for Measure (2016) all reflected the building’s role as royal fortress, prison, court, asylum and seat of government.
In recognition of this demi-paradise was runner up for the Equity Ensemble Prize, one of the Peter Brook/Empty Space Awards, judged by national newspaper critics, presented annually in London to UK fringe theatres otherwise unsupported by public funds.
Due to the restricted sizes of the various playing spaces – courts, corridors, landings, library, old cells & tower – audience capacity was limited for health & safety reasons to just 60 ticket holders for each Shakespeare performance (Reduced to 45 in 2016).
‘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 celebrating the 600th anniversary of the merging of the duchy with the Crown. It was fitting therefore that the company was commissioned by Buckingham Palace to welcome HM on her latest visit to the castle in May 2015. Stephen Tomlin as director introduced and set the action, an extract from Act II Scene I of Richard II, played out on the steps of the castle’s Norman keep. The Queen afterwards 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!