Past Pleasures Ltd is the country’s oldest professional costumed historical interpretation company, providing an unrivalled 'one-stop-shop' for the heritage sector.
Founded in 1987, we hold Europe's largest contract for daily live interpretation for Historic Royal Palaces.
Interpreting history is the core of what we do - devising and producing bespoke historical events, large and small, covering 2,000 years of history in the form of site-specific scenarios and dramatic re-enactments, for corporate clients and sites wishing to expand their repertoire.
Our award-winning education department works with schools, heritage sites and museums to deliver historical education sessions taught by costumed interpreters in first or third person.
Past Pleasures are consultants in our field for national and international sites and institutions, as well as for TV, stage and screen, providing historical entertainers, actors, musicians, falconers, jousters and speakers.
Past Pleasures researches, designs and creates museum-quality period clothing and accessories, from any period and for any character.
We both recruit and train interpreters for clients, using our experience in the field of historical costumed interpretation to tailor a working development programme to suit any site. Where we undertake non-costumed work, we do so under the auspices of Past Pleasures Heritage Theatre – our alternative registered company name.
Our historical performers work at the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, for Historic Royal Palaces, and can be found regularly at such sites as Dover Castle and Audley End House, managed by English Heritage.
"What a wonderful night. You and your colleagues were fantastic. Who could know learning about the past could be so much fun? Thank you so much for creating such a wonderful event"
Director of Public Engagement
Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
University of Oxford
"Thank you and your teams for taking part in 'The Night Before The Somme' and making it a success for our audiences - I am so proud of you and your fabulous team for using their skills with respect and empathy towards the Somme stories and within the IWM brand & physical constraints."
Head of National & International Learning & Engagement,
Imperial War Museum London
“[When Charles I] delivered his execution speech to the students they were stunned into silence! the Stuarts visit at Banqueting House changed the way I teach the subject.”
"[Past Pleasures] are always creative and highly professional. Their work speaks for itself, the performance they wrote and performed for our opening event was informative, fun and engaged on many different levels. " Islington Council, 2019
"English Heritage has worked with Past Pleasures for almost 20 years and over that time they have provided us with an outstanding quality of work..."
Past Pleasures' team?
Past Pleasures are not currently recruiting.
Past Pleasures' interpreters come from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds and include teachers, academics, historians, writers, actors and historical performance specialists - with one thing in common: a passion for sharing history with others.
Many specialise in a particular subject area (eg; architecture, military history, material culture, religion, garden design, art history, science) or in a particular practical discipline (such as foodways or the history of dance), while the expertise of others lies in a particular historical period - and our collected interest spans every era from Ancient Britain to the Modern Age: 'From Plato to Nato' or 'From Stonehenge to Safeway'!
All our interpreters possess research skills as well as a wide range of performance abilities - which include storytelling, voice projection, singing, dancing and stage combat - and all have the confidence to stand before strangers and present themselves and their information in period dress. But one of the principal reasons for their success in capturing - and holding - visitors is charm...
Past Pleasures is unique in that we do not use scripts. Founder and Managing Director Mark Wallis firmly believes that historic sites, museums and galleries are not stages and that visitors are not a passive theatre audience.
"Live Interpretation is like theatre but is not theatre, at least, not conventional theatre."
One advantage of not using scripts is that it frees the interpreter to respond to the visitors' interests - while still adhering to the aims and structure of the event. We use improvisation and dramatic techniques to immerse visitors in our world, should they choose to be immersed.
Because rigorous research (often undertaken in conjunction with the site's education officer) is at the root of our characterisations, clients can relax in the knowledge that their learning outcomes and objectives will be met. Education underpins all our work but is worn lightly.