Paris in the late 1800s, the so-called Belle Epoque. Fortunes are made and lost overnight as colonialism, backed by imperial might, opens up high-risk financial opportunities for those with the means to take advantage of them. The working class might be worse off than ever, pushed ever further out into dusty suburbs by ruthless Haussmannian embourgeoisement, but for those in the middle and upper classes who can drown their memories of the Prussian Siege of Paris and the semaine sanglante in champagne, life has never been better. And when keeping up appearances and wounded national pride gets to be too much, the temptations of the Demimonde are just around the corner.
The term Demi-Monde was coined by Alexandre Dumas, fils, who wrote The Lady with the Camellias, inspired by his affair with the courtesan Marie Duplessis. The Demimonde is where the charms of courtesans are the coin of the realm, and men regularly wake up in the morning, fortunes spent. For the courtesan, or the politician, who knows how to sell a fantasy, the rewards can be magnificent.
The world of the theatre represents a portal between Monde and Demimonde. While tout le monde makes sure to be seen attending opening night of the ballet, having a box seat means being granted exclusive access to the dressing room, where one can negotiate more private entertainment opportunities with the talent.
The geopolitics of 1890s France take on a more personal shape in our improvised Demimonde. While Bonapartists, Republicans and Loyalists fight over control of the government, and France's military tries to reclaim its national pride in proxy resource wars in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, we will be discovering more personal stories reflecting all these themes, within in the microcosm of the world of pleasure of the City of Light.