Location: Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall, UK [MAP]
Designer: Rowena Cabe
Project Type: Coastal
Completion Date: 1940s
Access: Cornwall is best navigated by car, so head to Porthcurno, TR19 6JU. Public transport is possible. From Penzance you can catch the A1 bus to Porthcurno Valley, followed by a 15 min walk to the theatre. (Bus time-table – http://porthcurno.info/timetable ) There is a small entrance fee of £4.50 for an adult.
The Minack Theatre, is an amphitheatre carved into a cliff that overlooks the sea, a truly extraordinary place in all respects.On a sunny day it is truly spectacular, the brilliant sun beaming down, the vivid blues from the sea and the uninterrupted view, evokes a feeling of being at the edge of the world.Rowena Cade was the philanthropist who created the theatre, having moved to Cornwall from Yorkshire after the First World War. Here she found a talent for costume making for local theatre productions, which lead in the 1930s to the carving out of the cliff at the bottom of her garden to create the theatre. She herself did much of the physical work, lifting stones and sand to and from the site, a task she continued well into her eighties as it was her life’s work. She even created her own recipe for cement, making a drier mixture that set within a day, so she could then inscribe it with her own designs.Although this is a human made structure it has been incredibly sensitive to the natural environment. All of the materials blasted away from the cliff were also used to form the stage and seating. Sand from the beaches below was collected and used as part of the cement. The flora that grows in and amongst the steep steps and seats adds colour and softness, it is also key in anchoring the theatre into its coastal surroundings.The final result is this stunning coastal amphitheatre, and is a testament to Rowena’s strong character, vision, and ability to inspire people to help her along the way. Even after her death a number of helpers continued to complete this truly, remarkable lady’s dream. The theatre is now a charitable trust to ensure its sustainability in the future.