The Minack is a working theatre as well as a place to enjoy and explore. We are constantly striving to give both visitors and performers the best possible experience and the site continually evolves to meet new challenges.
Building a dream
In the 1950s Rowena created the first dressing rooms for her actors, a single-storey building clinging to the cliff-face. Even though few people would ever see it, she decorated the façade with designs of fish and scallop shells and created beautiful arched windows, looking out over Porthcurno Bay. In 2011 this building became unsafe and the backstage area now contains a much larger building with space for technical work and storage as well as a big rehearsal area and spacious dressing rooms. The new façade has been etched in Rowena’s own style.
Our technical facilities have evolved dramatically. In the early days, the ticket office was a picnic table in Rowena’s garden, now we have online booking. Battery lamps and car headlights lit the first productions. Today, our complex lighting system is capable of wonderful effects, though moonrise over the sea is still the greatest lightshow. We also have a comprehensive sound system, ensuring that wherever you sit in the theatre you can hear everything that happens on stage.
From village drama to major production
Since 1976, the Minack has been run by a charity, The Minack Theatre Trust CIO, dedicated to ensuring care of the property for future generations to enjoy. It hasn’t lost its connection with Rowena Cade, however. The trustees include members of her family who are deeply committed to their remarkable heritage. The work of running the theatre has grown exponentially, since the days when Rowena could call on a small team of dedicated volunteers to help out on shows. Now we are among largest employers in the area with over 60 staff in roles as diverse as catering, gardening, visitor services and education.
The Minack attracts over a quarter of a million visitors and playgoers and contributes over £1m annually to the local economy. We actively support Cornish theatre companies and our active education programme enables over 2,000 young people to experience and take part in theatre projects and productions each year.
Growing not Changing
Since Rowena’s death the structures of the stage and auditorium she built have remained the same. But around them we have extended and added new features to meet the needs of modern audiences and our large visitor numbers. We’ve put an accessible balcony at the top of the auditorium, so that people who are less mobile can enjoy our shows. We’ve also added a café with breath-taking views of the sea and beautiful sub-tropical gardens for our visitors to enjoy. But as you gaze down from the top of the theatre at the winding steps, the curved terraces and the chequerboard pattern of the stage with the rocks and sea tumbled behind it, you can experience the magic that Rowena created, that has entranced people for eighty years.
Seeing Things Differently
New technology is enabling us to see our theatre in ways Rowena Cade could never have imagined in the 1930s. Whether it's aerial drone shots, or an immersive 3D virtual Minack, we're thrilled to be able to use the latest technical developments to make our theatre more easily accessible and interactive. We've been working with the innovative developers at Plan 8 VR on several recent initiatives. Here's a short video they have created to show you some of the work we've been doing together.