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St Aubyn Estates Cottages

13 April 2018

Rowena Cade’s Minack Theatre

The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno

Down in the depths of wild West Cornwall, carved into the cliffs, proudly looking out to the English Channel and the Atlantic, stands the county’s world-famous outdoor theatre – that is only 85 years young!

The History of the Minack Theatre

Rowena Cade, who moved to Cornwall after the First World War, built a house for herself and her mother on land at Minack Point for £100. After enjoying an outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1929 by drama enthusiasts in a nearby meadow at Crean, inland of Porthcurno, she was in search of a venue where the community could continue to stage plays.

When the Tempest was then chosen as the next play, she offered her lower garden as the stage – which lent itself to an amphitheatre-like structure. Miss Cade decided that the cliffs below her garden would be the perfect setting for an open-air theatre for the local thespians, and over the winter of 1931 and into 1932 she and her gardener, Billy Rawlings, moved endless granite boulders and earth, creating the lower terraces. Miss Cade and her gardener, Billy Rawlings, made a terrace and rough seating, hauling materials down from the house or up via the winding path from the beach below. In 1932, The Tempest was performed with the sea as a dramatic backdrop, to great success.

Every winter, Cade, with the help of her gardener Billy Rawlings and Charles Angove continued improvements on their creation – with much of what you see standing today being placed there by their very hands.

Though we may not always be blessed with the most predictable weather in the UK, the opportunity to watch an open-air performance in one of the most dramatic settings in the world is not to be missed – with the weather usually adding to the experience. Find out more about what’s on this season at the Minack Theatre on their website -