When it comes to open-air theatre in Cornwall, as the song goes: “Nobody does it better.” The 2022 season offers opera on the lawn, fairytales on the beach, proms on the cliffs, Dickens in the garden and Shakespeare – well, just about everywhere. Your only problem will be how many productions you can fit into one summer.  

The Minack Theatre

The Minack Theatre 

The Minack celebrates its 90th anniversary this summer, having first opened its gates to the public in 1932 for a local production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in Rowena Cade’s cliff garden. Commemorative events include a new production of The Tempest by the Hertfordshire Players (August 15 to 19) and a special exhibition telling the story of the first performance, when the theatre was just a grassy space and open-air theatre a novelty. Other season highlights include the first collaboration between the Minack and Tête à Tête opera: The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, an opera for both children and adults based on a novel by Philip Pullman (June 21 to July 1, followed by a performance on Sunday, July 3 at Prideaux Place in Padstow). It will run in tandem with The Odyssey, the Ancient Greek epic interpreted by ex-Kneehigh actor David Mynne and described as “proper Greek stuff (sex, swords, sandals) with all the boring bits removed”. Further treats include literary classics Jane Eyre (June 5 to 9), Vanity Fair (July 3 to 7) and David Copperfield (July 25 to 28); Mozart’s great dramatic opera Don Giovanni (July 11 to 15); and Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera The Pirates of Penzance (July 17 to 22), staged by Cornish company Illyria in its 30th anniversary year. www.minack.com  

Sterts, near Liskeard

Sterts, near Liskeard 

Following an exciting site redevelopment, Sterts offers a unique Cornish theatre adventure. Nestled into Bodmin Moor, this tented amphitheatre guarantees a wonderful family-friendly experience which is never at the mercy of the elements. The summer programme includes fantastic family shows including Matilda The Musical (May 31 to June 2), and Honk! (July 8 to August 27), an adventurous musical comedy about the Ugly Duckling. You can also journey to Neverland for a refreshingly clever retelling of the classic story in Wendy & Peter Pan (July 14 and 15), and enter the Houses of Parliament to witness an insightful, gritty Royal Family power struggle in King Charles III (July 28 & 29). If that isn’t enough, there are plenty of one-night only performances, including Illyria Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (July 21), Miracle Theatre’s King Lear (August 6 & 7), David Walliams’ Awful Auntie (August 17), Sounds of the ‘60s with The Zoots (August 28) and Seth Lakeman (September 9). There is #MoreOnTheMoor this summer, so don’t miss out – book your unique Cornish theatre experience now. www.sterts.co.uk 
 

The Globe Theatre at Penlee Park

Penlee Park Open Air Theatre  

This theatre in the park at the heart of Penzance celebrates its 74th annual season this year, with more than 80 events ranging from theatre and music to circus and children’s shows. The fun begins on May 30 with David Walliam’s classic family tale Awful Auntie, presented by Heartbreak Theatre. Further highlights include the only Cornish performances of Julius Caesar from London’s Globe Theatre on tour; the 30th anniversary tour of Illyria’s The Pirates Of Penzance, Peter Pan and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Noel Coward’s timeless comic farce, Blithe Spirit; The Fisherman’s Friends’ fifth concert in the park; The Last Baguette Theatre’s fun, farcical and anarchic version of King Arthur; and Gin & Jazz events curated by Caspyn gins. www.penleeparktheatre.com  

Bedruthan Hotel

Bedruthan Hotel, Mawgan Porth 

Make yourself comfortable on the lawn at this funky hotel, with a fabulous backdrop of the Atlantic coast. Shows include A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Quantum Theatre on July 19 and Heartbreak Productions’ Much Ado About Murder on August 16, as well as fairy tales Rapunzel (Immersion Theatre) on August 12 and Cinderella (Chaperhouse Theatre) on August 23. www.bedruthan.com

Miracle Theatre’s King Lear

Miracle Theatre: King Lear  

An exquisitely dark tale about a family squabble that grows out of all proportion, Miracle’s King Lear features Rosie Hughes in the title role. This fresh and fast-paced adaptation of Shakespeare’s text tells a shocking yet tender story of ageing and madness, fuelled by ambition and fired by betrayal. Venues in July and August include Carn Marth (Redruth), Penlee Park (Penzance), Trelissick (near Truro), St Agnes Beacon, Boconnoc (near Lostwithiel), St Martin’s & St Mary’s (Scilly), The Island (St Ives), Sterts (near Liskeard), Stowe Barton (Bude), Newquay Orchard, Trelowarren (near Helston), Tregrehan (St Austell) and Enys (near Penryn). Bring seats, blankets and picnic. For dates and further information, visit www.miracletheatre.co.uk 

Estella at Trebah Garden

Trebah Garden, Mawnan Smith 
This exotic garden has a charming amphitheatre for touring productions, as well as their own. Look out for Theatre6’s Estella, inspired by Great Expectations, on July 8; A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Duke’s Theatre Company on July 21 & 22; The Munch Mission from Brave Bold Drama on August 5; and EM Forster’s A Room With A View from Bodkin Theatre Company on September 2. www.trebahgarden.co.uk  

Wildworks: I AM KEVIN

Wildworks: I AM KEVIN 

Wildworks presents I AM KEVIN from August 6 to 20 at Carlyon Beach in the heart of St Austell Bay. Described as “a fairytale to set the world on fire”, showgoers will be taken on a dark, humorous, fiery and honest journey of impossibility. Written and directed by artistic director Mydd Pharo (co-written by Hannah McPake) and created with the communities of Cornwall, it invites audiences to dive into the darkest depths of their consciousness and rewrite the stories that try to define us. Recommended for adults and brave children over the age of 12. Adults £24, concessions £18. https://wildworks.org.uk/ 

Sun & Moon Theatre: Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing 

Sun & Moon Theatre tours Cornwall with a joyous, vibrant production of Shakespearean comedy Much Ado About Nothing. It’s 1945, the war has ended, and Messina’s young men have returned ready for peace, celebration and … romance? Hero and Claudio are in love and engaged to be married, while Beatrice and Benedick are in a perpetual ‘merry war’, engaged in battles of wits and wills. But not everyone has come back unscathed, not all scars are visible, and the spread of misinformation has its consequences … Suitable for all ages. See it at Little Pig Farmshop and Café, Bude (with North Coast Arts) on Friday, June 10; St Austell Arts Centre on Friday, June 17; Sterts, near Liskeard, on Saturday, June 18; St Day Old Church on Saturday, June 25; Penlee Park, Penzance on Sunday, June 26; Mevagissey Jubilee Hall on Saturday, July 9; and Cardinham Woods Café Garden, Bodmin (with IntoBodmin) on Saturday, July 23.