Minack Theatre

Minack Theatre

The Minack open-air theatre was created by one remarkable woman - Rowena Cade - who financed, planned and physically built the theatre. Initially she worked as apprentice to two Cornish craftsmen to cut stone for the stage and seating, with one wheelbarrow lost over the edge of the cliff in the process. The first performance was "The Tempest" in 1932 which was lit by car batteries and headlights. From this point until her death, Rowena worked relentlessly on improving the theatre, which included carrying sand on her back from Porthcurno beach to make concrete.

When wreckage from a Spanish Freighter washed onto Porthcurno beach, Rowena single-handedly carried twelve 15ft beams up to Minack. When Customs officers on the beach enquired as to whether she had seen the timber, Rowena admitted that she had collected some wood that morning. Concluding that such a frail-looking woman could not have lifted what they were looking for, they went on their way. "I didn't tell them a lie now did I?" Rowena remarked as she built the new dressing rooms from the beams.

Just before she died in 1983, she left elaborate sketches of how the theatre might be covered when it rains. So far there have not been the funds to implement them, but maybe one day there will.

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