DEMI-PARADISE IS BACK
Demi-paradise was established by actor Stephen Tomlin as the first ever resident professional theatre company for Lancaster Castle. Between 2000 and 2016 this rolling ensemble of northern based actors and creatives presented critically acclaimed and hugely popular promenade productions of Shakespeare along with other annual entertainments. Following retirement from his part time day job as a tour guide at the castle in 2017 and subsequent move to Northumberland, Stephen reconstituted Demi-paradise as a small scale touring company specialising in literature based entertainments.
‘Haunted: Ghost Story Readings for Halloween, will be playing arts venues between Newcastle and Dumfries from 26th Oct – 2nd Nov. …..See the Haunted page for full content and tour dates!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF
‘This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle…This other Eden, demi-paradise…’ (Richard II I.ii)
Demi-paradise staged 10 full scale productions of Shakespeare’s plays in and around the castle’s Shire Hall courts complex. They all used live music and song except Othello which had a specially composed electronic soundtrack by MD Lee Affen. Later productions were rendered especially memorable in being interpreted and recorded by professional artists-in-residence whose work was shown at the Dukes Theatre Lancaster, Hexham Queens Hall, Lancaster University and Theatre by the Lake Keswick.
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 ancient role as royal fortress, prison, court, asylum and seat of government.
In recognition of this demi-paradise was runner up in 2008 for the hotly contested Equity Ensemble Prize, one of the Peter Brook/Empty Space Awards, judged by national newspaper critics, presented in London to UK fringe theatres otherwise unsupported by public funds.
Due to the restricted sizes of the playing spaces – two working law courts, corridors, landings, library, old cells & tower – audience capacity was limited to 60 ticket holders for each performance.
The company was commissioned by Buckingham Palace to welcome The Queen on her last visit to the castle, in 2015. Stephen Tomlin as director introduced and set the action, an extract from Act I Scene 2 of Richard II, played out on the steps of the castle’s Norman keep. HM 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!