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An open air theatre carved beautifully into the Cornish coastline

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The Minack theatre is an open air theatre carved beautifully into the Cornish coastline. It is situated near Porthcurno, 4 miles from Land's End. Minack is Cornish for 'stony or rocky place' and the theatre lives up to its name, balanced precariously upon a rocky granite outcrop that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean.
The theatre was the brainchild of Miss Rowena Cade who until her death in 1983 lived nearby at Minack House. It was here back in 1929 that the adventure of the Minack began. A local village group were keen to perform Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. The only available venue however, ended up being a meadow! The following year they performed 'The Tempest' and Rowena was keen that they have a more suitable location. She offered up her garden and quickly cobbled together a makeshift stage. Buoyed by her efforts, Rowena then spent the following years developing and building a fully seated local Cliffside theatre. Thus the Minack was born. On a moonlit evening in the summer of 1932 'The Tempest' was performed and ever since, this unique theatrical setting has entertained many a visitor. In 1976 the theatre was registered as a Charitable Trust and is currently run by a local management team.

The view over the Minack Theatre
Photo shellac
In 1944, the theatre was used as the location for the Gainsborough Studios film 'Love Story', which starred Steward Granger and Margaret Lockwood. However, the theatre's great arch enemy; the British weather, forced recording to move to a studio mock-up. Productions to date include a healthy proportion of Shakespeare, but also entertainment of all forms, opera, choral, mime and Gilbert and Sullivan. Unsurprisingly the most popular G&S being 'The Pirates of Penzance' and few other theatres offer such a suitable backdrop. No need for ocean sound effects with this production! Quality amateur theatrical groups are also encouraged to perform at the Minack and past names you may recognise include author Will Self, actor John Nettles and singer Charlotte Church.
The Minack theatre is truly a magnificent site. Easily mistaken for an ancient Roman structure, it towers above the cliff face, almost teasing the waves below with its outrageous presence. The headed crag below has long been used by fishermen as a prime sight for a catch. Today however, the gully is full of the sound of rapturous applause and not the chug of local fishing boats. Few places in the world can match the beauty of this section of the Cornish Coast, and the seamless hybrid of nature and man that is Minack, offers a memorable experience.
Theatre productions take place from June to September, with a full summer season of 17 plays, produced by both UK and international companies. Each week a new production is performed ensuring the Minack always has something new to offer. This 750 seater theatre is also open to visitors year-round and the site includes the 'Rowena Cade Visitors Centre' and 'The Minack Coffee Shop'. The visitor's centre includes photographs, models and audio-visual displays as well as offering the chance to learn more about the history of this extraordinary theatre. The Coffee shop provides stunning views over Porthcurno Bay and some of the most spectacular scenery in the region. Facilities include toilets and parking.

The view from the Minack Theatre
Photo Lexy5by5
A trip to the far west of Cornwall wouldn't be complete without a visit to this unparalleled place of theatre. If possible, be sure to take in a show and then sit back, enjoy the backdrop and perhaps just spot a star of the future.
Visitor Information
The Minack Theatre is open daily from 10am to 5pm (closes 3.30pm in winter). Entry costs around £3.50 for adults, £1.40 for children. The theatre stages evening performances during the summer season. Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall, TR19 6JU. Tel: 01736 810 181

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