Places 1: All the worlds a stage!
ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE
And what a stage to see the world from - The Minack Theatre.
A theatre carved into the cliffs, overlooking the exceptionally beautiful beach of Porthcurno, West Cornwall. With the most southerly peninsula of Britain beyond - The Lizard, stretching out into the distance - you really do feel like you are on the edge of the world here. You can see storms building out at sea, pods of 50-100 bottlenose dolphins travelling up through the warmer currents of the Gulf Stream, basking sharks gliding beneath kayakers and more recently Orcas (Yes real life killer Whales!). On a good day, the turquoise water is so clear, the underwater action is visible from your seat. It doesn’t get more dramatic than that!
It must have been the draw for Rowena Cade who discovered and bought the headland for £100 in the early 1920’s. She built a house on the cliff top for her Mum and her, a place that would also become home to her sister and her sister’s children too. Rowena was an artist. She designed and made the costumes for an open air production of Midsummers Nights Dream. The idea of creating a theatre in her cliff-top garden followed when a location was needed for their next production of The Tempest. Rowena then spent 6 months building a basic stage and seating area for the audience with the help of her gardener, Billy, and friends. They ended up using a cars headlights to light the stage! We love this story because it starts with a family leaving behind an ordinary life to live an extraordinary one on the coast of Cornwall.
Rowena and her gardener would dedicate the rest of their lives to the Minack’s full creation. No machinery, no drills: they made their own concrete, carrying sand up the sharp ascent from the beach. They used their own dynamite to make explosions in the granite rock- Minack actually means ‘rocky place’ in Cornish ‘Meynek’. Apparently, Rowena used a screw driver to etch her designs into the concrete before it set.
The Minack Theatre continues to be a working theatre and was probably one of the few theatres in the world that could continue performances safely last summer. If you visit in the day you can wonder the auditorium, the backstage walkways and the gardens, you might also catch rehearsals or workshops. Here are some tips if you are booking for a performance:
Take a blanket and take a pillow, hell, take two pillows to sit on - you are either sat on concrete terraces or grass, either way you’ll be thankful for the extra cushioning by half time
Take waterproofs, warm layers, wools - even if it’s a hot day, the temperature drops when the sun drops
Maybe sack off the high heels! It’s pretty steep and if you aren’t steady on your feet (like me) you might find yourself cartwheeling the concrete steps hoping you stop before the cliff edge.
Assign your driver carefully! Cornish roads are known for being wiggly and windy and the roads that get you to Porthcurno are certainly those. Tight turns, steep hills, narrow roads… but well worth the adventure.
Performances are happening again, so get booking!
And if you can’t make up your mind on what to book why not go with us on Saturday 26th June which is when Darcey will be putting on her play in a day with The Minack Youth Theatre?! It’s just 10 minutes so you won’t get a numb bum and will be one of 4 10-minute shows which you can get up in-between. Very relaxed, a bit of fun and exciting that one of our own is premiering original work at this world famous theatre.