Wednesday, 18 May 2016

theatre district and whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense pinafore

Just a few kilometres away from the westernmost reach of England at Land’s End—visited in the grey when a sudden fog came up but we wanted to cross all the way from East to West and weren’t being deterred by the weather—lies the cove of Porthcurno with the open-air amphitheatre hewn into the wave-rocked granite outcroppings.
The skies opened up suddenly and the sun returned to the Penzance peninsula and we stopped to explore the stage and arena seating of the Minack Theatre, the endowment of a local patron of the arts who recognised that the gully looking out to the sea who be a perfect venue for the community players to stage their performance of The Tempest.
From the first show in 1929 whose footlights were car headlights, the theatre has evolved into the beautiful sculpted gardens that attract many matinee-goers just to see the playhouse. I am unsure whether Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance was ever shown there but the location certainly provides the proper backdrop.
The comic-opera’s premiere rather took place on Broadway instead of their native London, interestingly, because America afforded no copyright protection and did not respect the intellectual property rights of foreign authors, and when HMS Pinafore debuted in the West End dozens of unscrupulous US companies “pirated” the performance with unsanctioned productions. Hoping to forestall further copy-catting, the duo figured that a New York inauguration might distinguish the genuine from the plagiaristic.