What do you do when you’ve got nothing to do on a Tuesday night? What do you do when Cloverdale Weekend Television is showing Gunsmoke reruns? What do you do when you’ve seen the movie playing at The Grand Theater?
Some, out of complete boredom, resort to front porch neighbor watching. Others throw the kids in the car and drive to Cloverdale’s Recreation Center to experience Cloverdale’s very own Recreational Dance Theater (RDT), your entertainment of Last Resort.
Last night I bit the bullet after thirty minutes on the front porch and went to see an RDT original production of “Flowers blowing in a Silent Breeze”. I paid my .50 cents at the door and found no trouble finding a seat. The Center’s small theater holds 75. I had my choice of 60 seats. I didn’t want to sit too close to the front. A friend warned me about one of dancers who has a problem with excessive perspiration. When he dances the part of the incoming thunderstorm his movements include violent spinning. The physical exertion produces a salty moisture which rains down on anyone within the first three rows.
After several attempts I found a fairly conformable seat in the center of the theater. The Recreational Center’s shoe string budget prohibits the purchase of new chairs so it makes do with the original metal / wood folding chairs purchased when the Center was built at the turn of the Century. While waiting for the performance I tried to decipher some of the pen knife carvings on the seat of the chair. There were markings from as far back as 1912. Strangely enough I couldn’t find anything recent. I think the wood is petrifying making it too difficult to carve.
At 7:30 P.M. the fluorescent lights switched off leaving the eleven of us in the dark. I’m sure something was wrong because the curtain didn’t open. There were sounds from back stage. I heard something fall, followed by several words the speaker didn’t intend to escape into the audience. One minute into the dark I heard an unusual sound coming from several rows behind me at the back of the theater. It was a slobbering sound, like a dog salivated over his master. It was the teenage couple that came into the theater just before the lights went out. I wondered why a teenage boy and girl would come to an RDT performance. Now the answer was audibly obvious.
Three minutes into the dark the curtain opened. The slobbering stopped until the music started. There before me, standing frozen in position, were the dancers of the RDT. The RDT is sponsored by the village recreational department and is open to anyone with an interest in dance - no matter your physical condition or talent. The Director is mindful o f this unique situation and tends to put the less talented into the background to play waving trees or floating clouds. The mildly gifted dancers, those who can bend down and touch their toes, dance the principal parts.
In tonight’s performance the Widow Matthews played the Rose Queen. She can still do the splits at 73 years old! Going down was the easy part. Getting back up was difficult. Two butterflies fluttered around to lift her when the amazed audience stopped applauding. Norm from the hardware shop danced the violet. Lorenda from the Butcher Shop was the Daisy.
At half time the florescent lights in the hall came back on. There were still four us in the audience. I felt uncomfortable. I felt sorry for the dancers. They were giving it their best to a community with little interest. Isn’t that the story of the arts in today’s society? A few minutes before the start of the second half the Theater Director stepped out from behind the curtain and announced that due to injuries suffered in the first half, the second half of the dance was canceled. He asked those of us that remained to step forward and collect a .25 cent refund.
I took my .25 cents and walked home. It was still light outside. I stopped on the porch, brushed off my rocker and sat down to watch the neighbors. At 10:00 P.M. it would be time for bed.