Cornwall's Minack Theatre

Minark Theatre, (photo by Lydia Evans)
Minark Theatre

If you absolutely love the theatre, don’t go to the Minack Theatre in Cornwall. The quality of the performances is undoubtedly first-class, but the setting is so stunning that you’ll probably miss the first act because you’ll be watching sails on the horizon, birds play in the waves, or gasping as the sun sets and the stars come out.

The Minack Theatre is built on a cliff in Porthcurno, just four miles from Land’s End. The open-air amphitheatre has been carved out of the rocky granite outcrop, and seems to hang over the Atlantic Ocean.  In 1932 a group of local performers were inspired to perform Shakespeare’s The Tempest, using the scenery of the cliffs and the sea to add a bit of drama to the production. The idea caught on, and the landowner decided to capitalize on the popularity by building a proper theatre.

 

What You’ll See

Improvements have been made over time, and the facility now boasts an exhibition centre featuring Rowena Cade, the original landowner and founder of the theatre; a café serving cream tea, light meals, and snacks; professional sound and lighting; dressing rooms for the actors; a gift shop; and a set of exotic gardens highlighting succulents plants that thrive in the salty air. All of these pale in comparison to the scenery, however. The rocky outcropping soaks up the rays of the setting sun, and in a key scene can prove quite distracting!

 

Details about Attending

If you attend a performance at the Minack Theatre, be prepared to arrive early to snag decent seats. Also, bring warm blankets or pillows to sit on, because the seating is Coliseum-style – essential just stone terraces rising dramatically above the stage. There are strips of grass between the stone, so it’s a bit softer on the derriere than you might expect. If needed, you can rent a cushion for £1. There are a number of steep steps down into the theatre, although a viewing platform is available from above.  Because it’s an open-air theatre, the Minack is subject to the whims of the weather. Performances will continue in a drizzle, but prepare for a cancellation in all-out rain.  Umbrellas are not allowed, so pack a rain poncho. During the British summer, matinees can be quite bright, so come prepared with hats and sunscreen. During the performance most audience members enjoy their own wine and cheese, so don’t be shy about adding to the ambience. Just be warned that the road to and from the Minack is narrow and curvy, so keep your “ambience” to a reasonable limit.

 

 

Take aCornwall guide with you...