Welcome to the Minack Theatre. Your tour begins on the long balcony at the top of the auditorium, in front of the toilet block.
Minack means a rocky place, ‘meynek’ in Cornish. If you’d been here in 1931, you’d have been standing on a sloping cliff, knee deep in gorse and bracken, with a sheer drop from the stage level to the sea.
Our story is the story of the Minack’s creator, Rowena Cade. Brought up in a genteel Edwardian family, she was inspired to transform a Cornish cliff-face into an open-air arena, much of it built literally with her own hands.
The Minack’s ‘master builder’, was born in 1893. After the First World War, she moved to Cornwall and bought the Minack headland for £100. Here she built her home, Minack House, which you can see on the cliff-top as you approach the theatre.
In 1929, she became involved with an open-air production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream which took place in the small hamlet of Crean, about a mile inland from here. It was so successful, that in 1932 she offered the company the use of her dramatic cliff garden as an ideal setting for their next show, The Tempest.
Now, with the help of her gardener, Billy Rawlings, Rowena – or Miss Cade as she was always known - began the task of making a practical acting area out of the rocky ground and shaping the first terraces for the audience to sit on.
Now, turn left and take the main steps down through the auditorium. When your reach the hairpin turn, keep straight on. Pass below two tall rocks close together on your right, known as 'The Brothers', and make your way to the fence at the western edge of the theatre.