The Minack Theatre
Admission Adults £5.00′ 15 and under £2.50′ under 2 free.
As you descend the steep steps you could be forgiven for believing you had been transported back in time to a Roman amphitheater, because that’s just what the Minack feels like. It truly has a magical feel to it, this is made all the more amazing when you consider how it was built.
Rowena Cade, loved the theatre so much she decided to build a place to perform her shows. She lived in Minack House and decided that the cliffs below her garden would be the perfect setting. When she was 38 she and her gardener, Billy Rawlings, and another workman moved endless granite boulders and earth by hand to create the lower terraces of the theatre, it took them 6 months to complete. In 1932 the first play was put on, ‘The Tempest’ and the performance was lit by batteries and car headlights. Over the next seven years there were many improvements and extensions. She had developed techniques for working with cement. Using the tip of a screwdriver she decorated surfaces with lettering and Celtic designs before the cement hardened. She brought the sand up by hand from Porthcurno beach and carried huge beams from the shoreline up to the theatre. One lovely story is that a ship had lost some of it’ s cargo including some very heavy thick beams and Rowena had carried them up the cliffs to use in her theatre. The next day when she was on the beach customs men asked her if she had seen anyone taking anything from the beach, she told them no, but she had taken some wood to use, they could walk back up the cliffs with her to see if that was what they were looking for if they wanted. They looked at this frail old woman and thought she couldn’t lift a beam never mind carry it up the cliff, and so told her she could keep the bit’s of wood she had found. Rowena Cade continued working on her theatre no matter what the weather until her mid 80s and died just before her 90th birthday.
It isn’t until you start to really look at the place that you realise how much work went into the building of this place, every seat has the name of a Shakespearean play etched into it, every pillar has a pattern.
I would have loved to have had a chat with her, she sounded like one incredible woman.