5 unmissable Cornish outdoor theatres
Meh who needs Broadway when we’ve got so much home grown grassroots talent? There’s no shortage of touring shows and in house productions on offer locally. While the weather is still mild, check out one of my favourite outdoor theatres.
Sterts (Upton Cross)
Good for: families, couples, catching touring productions on their southwest run.
Muddy award winning Theatre Sterts is a favourite here at Muddy HQ. Their inhouse shows are just as professional as the touring productions. We’ve enjoyed The Wizard of Oz and Lady Windermere’s Fan as much as Ratburger.
A natural amphitheatre in the grounds of an old pig farm – but the bonus is, its covered by a giant tent. That means it’s practically all weather – you won’t get wet, because let’s face it it rains ALOT.
However, it can get a bit chilly once the sun has gone down. Regulars like us bring blankets and coats and those of you with knobbly botties might like to bring a cushion too.
I like the fact there are no allocated seats – its first come, first choice and perfect for snuggling up with little ones. Quirky: What else? Lovely grounds where you can sip champers on the lawn or nab a picnic bench. They are so lovely, they don’t mind if you bring your picnic into the theatre with you, (although it’s nice if you buy something from their bar or cafe as well – mine go mad for the hot chocolate.)
An early flag wave for: The Smartest Giant in Town (for the kids); Hi Dee Hi, Jesus Christ Superstar.
Sterts Theatre and Arts Centre, Launceston Road, Upton Cross, PL14 5AZ T: 01579 362382
Good for: Local productions, schools, groups
This is a classic amphitheatre boasting incredible sea views. Built by hand by Rowena Cade (bit of a local hero), they improved it a little every winter. From hosting the village play in 1929, the theatre now sees around 80,000 visitors a year over the 17 week summer season. The theatre is open from May to September, presenting drama, musicals and opera. Mix of local, amateur and professional touring shows.
Quirks: This is one stunning amphitheatre – perched on a cliff top, surrounded by lush garden with an unrivalled view. Workshops for children. Foodwise, the café is open before the show and during the interval.
An early flag wave for: Don’t miss the Merry Wives of Windsor, (Guildburys Theatre Co), Curious Creatures, The Tempest in a tea-cup
The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, TR19 6JU T: 01736 810181
Rogue Theatre (Tehidy Woods)
Good for: family focussed early afternoon shows, with a darker turn in the evening aimed at young adults and grown ups.
The adventure follows a trail along a winding path and the story takes place in the heart of the woods so come prepared for all eventualities. The summer season runs for just three weeks from 16 August to 4 September. Seating is hay bales and log rings
Two shows this summer: 2:30pm is shorter with more activities for younger families. The 7:30pm sitting has a darker atmosphere and is slightly longer – more suited to older families and adults.
Quirks: just about everything. For a start it’s in a wood. They also serve their own epic Wild Woodland Vegetable Stew from a giant cauldron bubbling on the fire. A rather warm and fuzzy ‘unknown friend scheme’ – buy a wild card ticket, it will be available to enable somebody who could not normally afford to take part to participate.
An early flag wave for: The Summer ball – it’s a must.
Rogue Theatre, Tehidy Woods North Cliffs Entrance, Near Portreath, TR14 0EZ
Trebah Garden Amphitheatre (Mawnan Smith)
Good for: Families
Trebah Gardens won the Muddy Award for best family attraction and easy to see why – a sub tropical paradise in a wooded valley. We’ve got friends from upcountry who visit it four times a year!
As a cultural centre Trebah both host and produce a vibrant mix of live theatre, music and dance events both on the stage and across the gardens. Trebah celebrates the vibrant talents of the Cornish performing arts sector as well as welcoming touring shows.
Quirks: Trebah’s amphitheatre is set in acres of gorgeous grounds (its one of the famous Six Gardens of Cornwall), and even has its own beach! Catch a show with a coastal view, or one of the promenade performances moving around the gardens to really appreciate all the theatre has to offer. This is great for families. Food wise, you can pre book a pasty. Bar and food available on the beach post show dinners, but you’re also welcome to bring your own picnic and wine.
An early flag wave for: Between now and September, catch 5 shows a week – circuit Kernow King, Csape dances Neptunalia, Illyria’ Danny the champion of the world, and Miracle Theatres The Magnificent Three.
Trebah Garden, Mawnan Smith, Falmouth Tr11 5JZ T: 01326 252200
Penlee Park Open Air Theatre (Penzance)
Good for: Families with older children, catching touring productions, something different
Built of the site of the Penlee House tennis courts, until this spring still looked like tennis courts. There’s a turfed terrace area acting as the stage. Investment now has new fairy lit entrance, enchanting. The summer season runs from June to September. Penlee presents professional and amateur theatre, comedy, music and film. They hosted the Folly Mixtures Burlesque group at the end of July. Happy for you to bring whatever you need for a comfy experience – blankets, brollies and picnic to mozzie spray.
Quirks: Sylvania setting. Pre-book a half time curry. Some performances have licenced bar
An early flag wave for: Kernow King, Scary Little Girls (Peter Pan), a good dose of Shakespeare (Much ado, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth), and the pop-up film night.
Penlee Park Open Air Theatre, Morrab Road, Penzance, Cornwall TR18 4HE