Minack Theatre, United Kingdom

 

The Minack Theatre is located in Cornwall on England’s southernmost tip. It was built into the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic ocean, giving it spectacular views. This advantage is also its disadvantage; it is open to the elements so you may find yourself watching a performance in the rain. This also limits the theatre season to only run between May and September.

Rowena Cade started building the theatre, between 1929 and 1930, at the end of her garden for the use of local amateur groups. They didn’t use any diggers or heavy machinery, instead they worked largely with hand tools and the occasional stick of dynamite to cut up the rocks and place them to create the first terraces on the steep cliff-side. Building the theatre took Rowena the rest of her life; most of what you see today was created by concrete mixed with sand from the beach, which she carried up the cliff in sacks. Throughout the theatre she etched complex designs into the wet concrete with a wet screwdriver. These include putting the names and dates of plays performed here on the seats. Rowena continued working on the theatre well into her eighties and passed away a few days before her 90th birthday in 1983.

Since 1976 The Minack Theatre has been run by a charity and work has continued. In 2011 the original dressing rooms, built into the cliff-side, became unsafe and have been replaced by a larger building which was built in the same style. The technical side has also been updated; originally battery lamps and car headlights lit the stage. Nowadays they have a complex lighting and sound system. The venue is still used solely by amateur groups who perform a season of 17 plays.