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Outdoor Summer Theatre Top Picks

Here are 8 outdoor theatre venues & companies you can catch in Cornwall this summer!

One thing Cornwall always does well is summer theatre. This August and September experience some fantastic shows in beautiful open air and outdoor settings. Miracle Theatre are celebrating their 40th anniversary by touring a brand new comic escapade for all ages – find a performance near you! Instead of The Lost Gardens of Heligan, this year’s Kneehigh Asylum is taking place at Carlyon Beach. Sing along with UBU and go on a hip-hoppity adventure with The Dancing Frog. Enjoy an immersive story-telling experience with Rogue Theatre in Tehidy Woods and meet mermaids, witches, faeries, and pirates. Or wrap up and take a picnic to one of Cornwall’s lovely open air theatre venues. What better way to enjoy a perfect Cornish summer?

Cover image: Ollie Oakenshield

1. Bedruthan Hotel

Sat 3rd August 2019
Mawgan Porth

Join Bedruthan on their stunning sea-view lawn this year for some award-winning theatre.

Young Ali Baba stumbles across an enchanted cave when he overhears the magic words that open it: “Open Sesame!” Inside the cave, he finds untold amounts of gold and jewels and takes some of it home to show his wife. But what will he do when she chides him for stealing? Can he keep the secret from his jealous brother? And when the Robber King comes looking for the missing treasure supported by an army of 40 angry thieves – will he and his family survive? Now in their 28th season, join Illyria this summer for a tale packed with cliffhangers, larger than life characters, and laughs galore.

2. Sterts Theatre

August – September 2019
Bodmin Moor

Sterts amphitheatre is an unusual and unique open air theatre situated on Bodmin Moor. It boasts a 400 seats capacity and is protected from the wind and rain by a massive canopy. Performers of various expertise and talents have starred on the Sterts stage. Big names such as Jo Brand, Ed Byrne and Josh Widdicombe have performed there as well as travelling theatres Illyria and Miracle Theatre.

Sterts’ summer programme this year features an array of fantastic theatre including family shows Diggory Piper, Fantastic Mr Fox, Mister Magnolia, David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny and popular performances from Squashbox Theatre. For the Shakespeare season you can catch adaptations of Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo & Juliet, as well as some Emily Bronte and Jane Austin classics. Well-loved company Illyria Theatre will also be bringing 3 shows to the stage – Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Frankenstein and The Tempest.

3. Miracle Theatre

August 2019
Multiple venues across Cornwall

Famous for touring a rich and diverse blend of original, inventive theatre since 1979, Miracle Theatre is one of Cornwall’s most renowned theatre companies, with a reputation for delivering a unique, lively and energetic performance style in venues across Cornwall and all over the UK.

This Summer Miracle present a brand new action-packed adventure following a feisty young woman as she ventures into a ‘Boy’s Own’ world of undiscovered jungles, treasure maps, campfires and penknives. Leading her team of quarrelsome explorers she stumbles into a bountiful paradise, whose inhabitants seem entirely peaceful, productive and fulfilled. Is this tranquil place the best of all possible worlds? Or is all too good to be true?
Image: Kristin Prisk 

4. Penlee Park Open Air Theatre

August – September 2019

Situated in one of Penzance’s most popular parks, Penlee Park Theatre is a unique outdoor theatre and has played host to many theatrical performances since its inaugural season in the 1950s. With a performance season running from June to September each year, the theatre seats up to 300 visitors at a time and has welcomed shows across a variety of genres from both amateur and professional touring theatre companies from Cornwall and the rest of the UK.

This summer season at Penlee Park you can catch Helston Theatre Company’s Wind in the Willows, along with Squashbox and Folksy Theatre who will be presenting some fabulous family shows. Join the Montagues and the Capulets for an exclusive, glittering red-carpet event or take a trip to L’Hotel Crevecoeur with Heartbreak Theatre to experience the celebrated comedy Private Lives. With a sprinkling of Shakespeare to The Full Brontë, come and experience the joys of outdoor theatre at Penlee Park. Don’t forget to pre-order some delicious curry before the show!

5. Kneehigh

August – September 2019
Carlyon Beach, St Austell Bay

This summer, Kneehigh‘s Asylum will be in an exciting new location… on the beach! Join them for a festival-tinged summer season of live theatre, music, food and drink on Carlyon Beach in the heart of St Austell Bay. The company will be presenting 2 shows this summer:

Kneehigh’s UBU!
Expect world-class buffoonery in this deliriously unhinged improvised promenade musical (surely the first of its kind!). Featuring some of the most iconic anthems of our times, given a fresh rub for their money by a belting Kneehigh band, plus an extraordinary choir of extras – you! – we guarantee this will be a rocking, rollicking riot of ridiculousness that you won’t forget.

The Dancing Frog
A delightful tale of hope, heart and hip-hoppity adventure based on the classic children’s book by Quentin Blake. Book tickets fast – they will hop away.

6. Minack Theatre

August – September 2019

One of Cornwall’s most famous tourist attractions, The Minack is a unique theatre perched on the cliffs high above the Atlantic ocean in Porthcurno. Since its first performance of The Tempest in 1932, when Rowena Cade pursued her vision to create a place for local drama enthusiasts, it has become one of the world’s most famous outdoor theatres. The Minack hosts a full programme of drama, musicals and opera every summer, together with music, comedy and story-telling.

The programme for 2019 features chivalrous heroes in I, Don Quixote and faded film stars trying to revive their glory days in Sunset Boulevard. Join the fight for women’s education in Jessica Swale’s powerful new play or enjoy an exhilarating George Eliot classic, The Mill on the Floss.

7. Rogue Theatre

August – September 2019
Tehidy Woods

Rogue Theatre creates daring high quality theatre, events and immersive experiences that are widely accessible and deeply engaging. Their work mixes rich atmosphere and a highly visual style with instinct, energy and a passion for wild places. Based at Tehidy Woods, this summer Rogue present 2 new shows:

Sea Queen
Sea Queen is a fast paced, funny, moving and enchanting show.  Told by The Moon it is sure to captivate imaginations of all ages, leading audiences into a mystical land of magic and mythology before returning to the wild heart of the woods for a party! This immersive theatre adventure starts with an enthralling journey along the wandering paths of Cornwall’s breathtakingly beautiful Tehidy Woods North Cliffs. Journey through the trees where chance meetings with mermaids, witches, faeries, and pirates will weave you into the magic of the story world.

Night Voyage
Night Voyage is a sparkling, dark, blazing and stirring adventure across the inescapable rising seas of mythology. This is a wild immersive experience for everybody (not so much like going to the theatre as wandering into a magical world in the woods), combining vivid imagery, theatre that takes place all around you, incredible live music, breath taking dance, immersive battles, supernatural visions and a beautiful tale.
Image: Ollie Oakenshield

8. Trebah Amphitheatre

August 2019
Mawnan Smith

A unique performance space set against the stunning backdrop of an award-winning sub-tropical Cornish garden. A cultural centre hosting and producing a vivid mix of theatre, music, stand-up comedy, puppetry and dance both on the stage and across Trebah Garden.

This summer at Trebah you can see some great family theatre. Celebrate the wildlife and faery myths of Cornwall and the tremendous world of trees with Squashbox Theatre. Or embark on an adventure with Ratty, Badger, Mole and Mr Toad. Help Ben’s Granny, an international jewel thief, pull of her biggest heist yet, in David Walliams’ best-seller adapted for stage and join Head Gardener, Herbert for a humorous love story of a man with a passion for plants. All this and more at Trebah Garden this summer.