The Minack Theatre (Cornish: Gwaryjy Minack) is an open-air theatre, constructed above a gully with a rocky granite outcrop jutting into the sea (minack from Cornish meynek means a stony or rocky place).
The theatre is located near Porthcurno, 4 miles (6.4 km) from Land’s End in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom.
The theatre was the brainchild of Rowena Cade, who lived at Minack House overlooking Porthcurno Bay. In 1929, a local village group of players had staged Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a nearby meadow, repeating the production the next year. They decided that their next production would be The Tempest and Miss Cade offered the garden of her house as a suitable location, as it was beside the sea. Miss Cade and her gardener 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. Miss Cade resolved to improve the theatre, toiling hard over the course of the winter months each year throughout her life (with the help of Billy Rawlings and Charles Angove) so that others might perform each summer.
In 1944, the theatre was used as a location for the Gainsborough Studios film Love Story, starring Stewart Granger and Margaret Lockwood but inclement weather forced them to retreat to a studio mock-up. In 1955, the first dressing rooms were built. Since 1976 the theatre has been registered as a Charitable Trust and is now run by a local management team. Rowena Cade died on 26 March 1983, at the age of 89.
Nowadays, the theatre is used from June to September for a full summer season of 17 plays, produced by companies from all over the UK and visiting companies from the USA. The theatre is open for visitors throughout the rest of the year. The 75th Anniversary of Minack was celebrated with a production of The Tempest in August 2007, directed by Simon Taylor and performed by the Winchester College Players.
1971 (from The Stage Guide)
Electrics: Strand Junior 8’s. Dimmers – 16; no presets; no groups. Total capacity – 60A on 3 phases.
Special effects supply – none.
Sound: Amplifiers – 1 x 20W. Tape decks – none. Turntables – none. Mic sockets – none. Loudspeakers – 3.
Links to information about equipment at Minack Theatre over the years
LSI: Keeping the Minacks House In Order (June 2009)
From Lighting & Sound International