News Page: ‘demi-paradise is dead – long live demi-paradise!’

Founded by actor Stephen Tomlin demi-paradise was a rolling ensemble of north west based professional actors and creatives that staged indoor promenade productions of Shakespeare and other seasonal entertainments at Lancaster Castle between 2000 – 2016. This site is a comprehensive record of that remarkable achievement. See ‘News’ for current activities.

‘This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle…This other Eden, demi-paradise…’

Scene for the Duke (med)

Richard II: Robert Garrett (York) & George Telfer (Lancaster) play before HM & guests 29/05/15

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 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 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!

Othello scene in Shire Hall

Othello company in Shire Hall

Demi-paradise produced ten full scale promenade productions of Shakespeare’s plays in one of the most extraordinary non theatre venues in the UK. Every show used live music & song performed live, 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 & recorded by professional artists in residence; work later exhibited at the Dukes Theatre Gallery & other venues.

MoV Jessica & Lorenzo

Merchant of Venice: Jessica (Kate Gilbert ) & Lorenzo (Lewis Marsh)

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) & Measure for Measure (2016) all reflected the building’s role as royal fortress, prison, court, asylum & seat of government.

MAAN Comic plotters med

Much Ado…(l to r) Don Pedro (Richard Sails) Leonato¬†(David Frederickson) and Claudio (Adam Jowett)

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.

Hamlet King&Queen med

Hamlet: Gertrude (Sarah Thurstan) & Claudius (Simon Kirk)

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).

MAAN Hadrians Tower Matt Music

Much Ado About Nothing: Conrad (Matthew Ganley) entertains in Hadrian’s Tower