The Minack theatre was created by Rowena Cade, who with her family, had moved to nearby Lamorna just after the First World War. A few years later they discovered a plot of land at Minack Point above Porthcurno beach and built a house for herself and her mother for £100.
In 1929, a local amateur dramatics group staged a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a nearby meadow. When a year or so later they announced their next production would be The Tempest, Miss Cade offered her garden as a suitable location. With the help of her gardener, they created a terrace and rough seating, with a backdrop of the sea. The play was a great success and Rowena Cade decided to improve the theatre, working through the winter each year throughout her long life.
Over the years the stage was improved, seats climbed ever higher up the hillside, many with the dates of performances inscribed in them. In 1955, the first dressing rooms were built, these have been replaced in the last few years to new state of the art dressing rooms. The theatre can now seat over 700 people and with a café, sub tropical gardens and a visitor centre, the theatre is now much more than just a theatre!
The Minack theatre is currently used from Easter to September for a full summer season of up to 20 plays and the occasional live music events. Companies come from all over the UK, and occasionally further afield, to put on shows in what can be challenging conditions. It’s rare for a performance to be cancelled, the weather has to be really bad! But if you’re lucky to be there on a calm summers evening with the setting sun turning the logan rock opposite golden and basking sharks or dolphins out in the bay, there’s no where more magical in the world.
Rowena Cade died on 26 March 1983, at the age of 89.