The Minack Theatre

We decided to go to Cornwall quite a long time ago, back in March or April, because I found a reference to the Minack Theatre online, and the pictures were so inspirational I just knew we had to find a way to get down there.  And then, when I looked at the scheduled of productions for the summer, I saw that The Lion in Winter was being performed on my birthday weekend. It seemed like fate.

This is the view of Porthcurno Beach. Image by Carole Heathcote

Luckily we bought 3 tickets on the off-change that we’d have a summer visitor, so when my mom decided to come along we could all go and enjoy the view.

The Minack Theatre is built on a cliff in Porthcurno, Cornwall. And when I say it’s built on a cliff, I mean it quite literally! The open-air amphitheatre has been carved out of the rocky granite outcrop, and seems to hang over the Atlantic Ocean.  Apparently (according to Wikipedia) “minack from Cornish meynek means a stony or rocky place” – which is certainly applicable! But it doesn’t convey the amazing views you get over the water, or the fresh air, or the wildlife ….

The view from our seats, looking down at the stage and the ocean beyond. (I swear I didn't alter the color of that water, either!)

The play started at 8pm, and we arrived at about 7:30. Just in time to get decent seats. First we had to climb down quite a few steep steps though, but there was plenty of light so it wasn’t too much of a problem. The seats are carved levels of rock, but they’ve left a strip of soil and grass, so it’s a little softer on your bum than it would have been in ancient Rome!  They also rented out foldable cushions, which, at £1 each, were a pretty good investment.

A close-up of a big rock in the distance.

I have to admit, even though the production was really good, my attention wandered because of the amazing location. Watching a little sailboat on the horizon, seeing the birds play in the waves, watching the sun set and the stars come out … well, I found it hard to follow the action on stage!  Luckily the performers were all quite good, and since I’m familiar with the subject (thanks Sharon Kay Penman!) I was able to keep up fairly well.  I wish we’d thought ahead to bring a bottle of wine!  As it was we made do with some hot chocolate.


Of course, the play finished at around 10:30, when the sun was good and gone. We had to climb out of the amphitheater and back to the car in the dark! But with a minimal amount of stumbling we made it, and then Alex enjoyed driving back to Penzance on the crazy little roads. (Which made it feel as though we’d had a bottle of wine instead of that hot chocolate!)

View of the sailboat from Minack Theatre

A teeny tiny sailboat on the ocean - we watched it pass the whole way across the horizon.

This was definitely one of the highlights of our weekend in Cornwall, at least for me. And definitely one of the best birthdays yet! (And there have been quite a few of them!)


Posted on 11/08/2011, in travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Oh my goodness, that is GORGEOUS! Sounds very, very cool. Must add this to my “to-do” list 🙂

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