Page last updated at 12:06 GMT, Saturday, 16 August 2008 13:06 UK

Bad weather hits open-air theatre

Minack Theatre: Pic Minack
About 75,000 theatre-goers normally visit the Minack each summer

The world-famous Minack Theatre in Cornwall has had its worst summer of cancellations in more than a decade.

The open-air theatre, which is carved into the granite cliffs above the sea at Porthcurno, attracts about 75,000 theatre-goers every summer.

But manager Phil Jackson said bad weather, particularly strong winds, had resulted in six cancelled performances so far this season.

The theatre was built by Rowena Cade in the 1930s.

The combination of incessant rain being blown in from the Atlantic on gale-force winds has made it very difficult
Phil Jackson, Minack Theatre

Summer performances - ranging from Shakespeare to musicals - are held from May until September, although the grounds and exhibition centre are open all year round.

Mr Jackson said over the past 10 years, an average of two to three shows had been cancelled because of the weather.

"We've had to cancel six so far this year, with another five weeks of the season to go," he said.

"It's still possible to go ahead with performances in light rain, but the combination of incessant rain being blown in from the Atlantic on gale-force winds has made it very difficult and really unusual this year."

Minack garden overlooking Porthcurno: Pic Carol Heathcote
The theatre, gardens and exhibition are open to visitors all year round

He said a decision on whether to cancel is normally made about two hours before the performance was due to start.

"We've obviously got a good idea of what the weather's going to be, but conditions can change so quickly, particularly here right on the coast near Land's End, so we wait as long as possible," Mr Jackson said.

"It's very tough for the performers too if we've got to cancel, because they've spent a long time preparing and they want to get on with the show, but in the end it's all down to health and safety."

He said 5,000 tickets had been sold for Gulliver's Travels next week.

"It's a complete sell-out, but the weather forecast is totally unsettled, so we're all keeping our fingers crossed."


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