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

Othello scene in Shire Hall

Othello company in Shire Hall

Demi-paradise staged 10 full scale productions of Shakespeare’s plays in and around the castle’s Shire Hall working law courts complex. They all involved 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 later shown at the Dukes Theatre Lancaster, Hexham Queens Hall, Lancaster University and Theatre by the Lake Keswick.

MoV Jessica & Lorenzo

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

The company’s productions 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 history as royal fortress, prison, court, asylum & seat of government.

MAAN Comic plotters med

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

In recognition of this outstanding achievement demi-paradise was runner up for the Equity Ensemble Prize, one of the Peter Brook/Empty Space Awards, judged by national newspaper critics and presented in London at the National Theatre Studios to shortlisted UK theatre companies otherwise unsupported by public funds.

Hamlet King&Queen med

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

Due to the restricted sizes of the playing spaces – two working law courts, corridors, landings, barristers library, ancient cells & medieval tower – audience capacity was strictly limited to 60 ticket holders for each performance.

MAAN Hadrians Tower Matt Music

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


The company was commissioned by Buckingham Palace to welcome The Queen as Duke of Lancaster 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!

Richard II : Dukes of Lancaster (George Telfer) & York (Robert Garrett)