Thursday, 11 April 2013

Back to The Minack

The Minack Theatre opened the 2013 season in chilly but jolly form with Craig Johnson's Squashbox Theatre giving morning performances aimed at teenies.

 Children wrapped up against the blow from the sea settled down round him looking like woolly cupcakes round a candle.  The wind was so fresh he had to have an assistant keeping the scenery on the ground. Johnson's nemesis is a sea anemone brought out from his rock pool for our delight, but he's also taunted by an ocean full of limpets, sea-squirts, crabs and his seagull friend, Ruan.

As he takes us through his Cornish world we meet  fishwives, sailors and the enchanting mermaid Morwenna.  I can't tell you what she said - it's a spell, you only know you've heard one - but I can tell you that the man in the next family nearly burst with laughter.  He was a helpless jelly the way a four-year old goes when something strikes them as impossibly hilarious.  She must have reminded him of an old girlfriend.

Squashbox's theatre contains improving elements of education, but you won't notice them as he handles them with a supreme lightness of touch.  If it gently reminds children - and adults - to put litter in the bin  then I'd much rather it was done this way than  by repeated ugly nagging, which doesn't work.

If you don't have or can't borrow any children, go anyway because Craig Johnson does magic before your very eyes, conjuring an alternative reality out of his imagination.

 The Minack is looking very spruce indeed this year with a few new seats added. There is also a weekly feature on Saturday mornings on Billy Rawlings, who came as Rowena Cade's gardener and handyman then moved heaven and earth to build her a theatre.

Mark Harandon has researched and re-created the character of Billy and will lead you
around the theatre telling stories and reminiscing about how it was built. Come along between 10am and 2pm and catch up with ‘Billy’ in the theatre to hear his stories.


lilith said...

Gorgeous little theatre and gardens. Elby introduced me to Treen campsite just along the cliff and a regular short dog walk over to the theatre and back. (PUFF PUFF WHEEZE)

DtP said...

That certainly does look like a splendid effort - almost carved out of the cliff.

Woman on a Raft said...

You'll be pleased to know that the theatre is doing well, Lilith, and is open as an architectural attraction all year. The programme is gradually expanding because despite the narrow access, the demand is there. Last year they had Christmas concerts. The ability to do electronic booking has helped many theatres - it has already sold out the KT Tunstall concert in May.

Not just almost carved out of a cliff, DtP - that's exactly what it is. Billy Rawlings did for Rowena Cade, mostly by his own hand, with Rowena following on with infill and the concrete work.

Elby the Beserk said...

Another of my fave places, as Lils has noted. My ex and I and our four kids used to go to Tree, down the road, camping, for many years from the mid-80s. The Minack a must every time, and we saw some wonderful productions there. Haven't been down there for too long, wot wiv one thing and anuvver - and the gardens down that end, at this time of year, are to DIE for. Must do it again.

MTG said...

I found this interesting, so thanks. If our Summer is half decent, I may do a two-wheeled invasion of the area and mini-theatre will get a visit.

Elby the Beserk said...

Treen, not Tree. Nitwit!

Woman on a Raft said...

As they say, MTG, it is worth the work of getting there. The last part is the trickiest - the road snakes round like it is trying to trick you, an effect not really captured on maps or even on Street View.

The gardens have been slow this year due to the cool weather so by the time you get there they should be getting on with it.