Cornwall’s quirky theatre venues: Sterts on Bodmin Moor

Pat and two children exploring Lanhydrock in Cornwall.

I have been aware of Sterts Theatre on Bodmin Moor for many years but have up until now have not managed a visit. An opportunity recently presented itself to go there to see Macbeth, the play I studied in depth for my English Lit GCE ‘O’ level many moons ago.

Although the amphitheatre is covered by canvas, I was advised by friends who had visited to make sure I wore layers of warm clothes, took a cushion and a blanket and maybe a hot drink in a thermos or warming toddy in a hip flask. This was excellent advice as it certainly grew chilly as the evening wore on and reminded me very much of the Minack Theatre without the sea view!

Ewart and Ann Sturrock had the vision to construct Sterts Theatre to give people the opportunity to experience the wonder of live theatre and music in an outdoor setting at an affordable price (tickets are around £12 for adults) They bought the barns and outbuildings on a former pig farm and set about transforming them into an outdoor arts centre. Three decades on, they have now retired and Sterts is now a registered charity run by a band of volunteers.

Sterts Theatre offers a unique opportunity to experience the wonder of live theatre and music in a unique outdoor setting at Upton Cross on Bodmin Moor. The spectacular covered open air theatre has an exciting and diverse programme of drama and theatre throughout the summer. The theatre bar and bistro are open on all performance nights and the Sterts BBQ has become a popular feature of an evening at Sterts.

Macbeth was a performance by the Sterts in house theatre company, directed by Oksana Wroath. The setting was really simple with wooden steps and a giant crown with flowing drapes allowing the actors to appear and disappear quite seamlessly. At the beginning I was struggling to get my imagination going, due I think partly to the fact that we are almost continuously bombarded with readymade imagery on films, TV and social media, so it makes us lazy. Once I got drawn in to the story and happily imagined the draughty castle in Glamis, Scotland, I allowed the actors to convince me they were truly Shakespeare’s characters from 500 years ago. I marveled at the incredible use of language Shakespeare demonstrated and the skill of the actors being able to remember so many lines! Learning lines by rote is probably a thing of the past but as the passages appeared from my ‘O’ level days I was astounded to find I remembered them word for word, dumbfounded from which dusty corner of my brain they had been prised!

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed my evening up on the moor in this quirky place, I marveled at the play, the actors, the accompanying music and soundbites and thank my friends for the top tips of warm clothes and cushions.

A full itinerary of forthcoming shows, online booking of tickets and pre supper meals can be found on the Sterts Theatre website  There is a snack bar, toilets and wheelchair access and car parking is free.

PS A hero of mine, Tristan Sturrock is currently playing Zacky Martin in the BBC TV Poldark series. He is the son of Ewart and Ann, so hardly surprising he chose acting as a career! I have followed him since he as a young actor played the lead for the fabulous Cornish Kneehigh Theatre in the 1994 production of Ravenheart, the story based around the opera, Carmen. He was the matador then and was obviously going to go on to greater things………

Enjoy a break in Cornwall

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