This is the view…
The Minack Theatre clings to the cliffs off the south coast of Cornwall, open to the sea air and breezes. The word “minack” means rocky place and it certainly is that.
As a child in Derbyshire, Rowena Cade enjoyed performing in productions that her mother put on locally. As an adult, she and her widowed mother moved to Cornwall and settled on the Minack headland, building Minack house. While Rowena participated in local productions and plays, she found she enjoyed backstage work more, creating costumes and scenery.
In 1929 she helped put on an open air production of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Success soon promoted more and Rowena thought she could create an open air stage at the base of a gully and slowly a small area was cleared and created just beyond the garden of her house.
Over the rest of the 1930s, the stage and seating area were created out of local granite, pebble by pebble. All this was deconstructed during WWII due to security concerns and Rowena and her work crew had to start over. She was determined and she did it. She expanded and refined the theatre continually, helping out with the physical work alongside the crews well into her advancing years. She died just before turning 90 with future dreams for the theatre still filling pages of plans. There’s a lot more history and detail here.
On our visit to Cornwall in the spring of 2011, we made the journey to the theatre, though we weren’t there for a performance. There’s a lovely garden at the top of the site, near the parking lot and then a visitor centre with a little exhibit to show you the history of the theatre. You can climb up and down the paths along the granite seating that rises up from a small circular stage. You can look out over the sea. You can descend to the nearby beach (or drive there as well).
We didn’t get to see a performance but I can imagine how spectactular it must be to see one in that setting, open to the elements as the sun sets over the horizon. I highly recommend a visit, especially if you can see a play.
They are open for visits even in winter, though with reduced hours (closed by 4 p.m.) and it costs £4 with parking on site.