Behind the Scenes of Paradise Lost – Outgrowing the Basilique Playhouse

The Basilique Playhouse, by Caitlin Tobias
The exterior of the Basilique Playhouse, Photo by Caitlin Tobias

Like Sheriff Brody in JAWS, soon after we started planning the Basilique Performing Arts Company’s production of Paradise Lost, we realised we were going to need a bigger boat.

Our current theatre, The Basilique Playhouse is modelled after the Santa Maria dei Miracoli, a church in the sestiere of Cannaregio, in Venice, Italy. Also known as the “marble church”, it is one of the best examples of the early Venetian Renaissance.

Here is the original, pictured below:

The facade of the Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venice.
The facade of the Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venice. Photo from Wikipedia.

Van Auster of POST made a reasonably faithful replica of this church, which we converted into a theatre. Here is the interior of our Playhouse, before we remodelled it to suit our purposes as a theatre:

Basilique Playhouse Interior - before remodelling
Basilique Playhouse Interior – before remodelling. Photo by POST.

And, here is an interior of the Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venice. While considerably more decorated inside, POST did a very god job of capturing the church’s essence in prims.

The interior of the Santa Maria dei Miracoli
The interior of the Santa Maria dei Miracoli. Photo from Wikipedia.

This is our Playhouse, after remodelling, during a performance of Romeo + Juliet. We added seating and a stage, and made an addition as a dressing/green room.

Photo by Caitlin Tobias
The interior of the Basilique Playhouse during a performance of Romeo + Juliet. Photo by Caitlin Tobias

We’ve been staging Romeo + Juliet in the Basilique Playhouse since April 2013, and it’s served us exceptionally well. Romeo + Juliet, however, is staged traditionally, with an audience facing a deep stage.

Because of the sheer difference in scale of Paradise Lost, we’ll need at least five times the stage area of what is available to us in the Basilique Playhouse. And, we’ll be staging it in the “inverse round” – what does that mean? We’ll be placing the audience in the middle of the action, with the scenes unfolding to the right, the left, the front and even above the seats.

So, we’re building a new theatre! We’re not replacing the Playhouse, it will remain just where it is. Because of this, our first task was to plan a site for the new theatre.

The good news is, we have the space. It’s going to take a fair bit of land reclamation to make it happen. Here is a sneak preview of the size and shape of the building we’re planning: It’s going to be a biggie!

The model for the new theatre being built for Paradise Lost.
The model for the new theatre being built for Paradise Lost.

2 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes of Paradise Lost – Outgrowing the Basilique Playhouse

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