Way off Broadway | TSLN.com

Way off Broadway

Lee Pitts

Ever since I wrote about the auction market in Centralia, Missouri, that was also being used as a church, readers have been sending me examples of other ways auction markets are being utilized. Recently I was sent a flyer for a theater company that has been performing plays and melodramas in the old sale barn in Edgemont, South Dakota. At first blush it sounds like an odd arrangement as I simply can’t envision a refined theater crowd showing up at a sale barn to watch Shakespeare. But the more I thought about it the more the idea made sense and it occurred to me that more auction markets could be more fully utilizing their facilities by presenting musicals and dramatic engagements on the days they aren’t selling cull cows and feeder calves.

Think about it: an auction market has plenty of seats with good visibility (if you don’t mind watching Hamlet through the bars of the ring scale); there is usually a high class restaurant at the sale barn where the theater crowd can wine and dine after the show; and, the mess can be cleaned up afterwards by merely hosing down the joint in plenty of time for the next cattle auction. (Although some theatrical performances may leave a lingering smell that some sensitive cattle buyers may find a bit discomforting.)

Now, I myself have never seen a Broadway play but I’d imagine the content of the most popular shows would have to be altered somewhat for the crowds that usually depend on cow sales for their entertainment. I don’t think Phantom Of The Opera is going to pack these folks in when there is a high school football game playing across town on the same night. So I would slightly alter the story line of these popular plays:

Annie Get Your Gun – A ranch family tries to decide whether to attend a play at the auction barn or go hunting on the first day of deer season.

Romeo and Juliet – The clerk on the auction block, Juliet, looks down at her star-crossed lover in the auction ring and asks, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” To which the ring man replies, “I’m behind the bull board you blind old bat.”

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying – A know-nothing businessman from the city buys a cow ranch, about which he knows nothing, and thinks there’s nothing to this ranching business when oil is discovered on his property.

Midsummer Night’s Dream – A rancher dreams of a $1.50 calf market, $85 hay, dollar fats and fields of green grass.

The Beggar’s Opera – A musical about auctioneers. It features The Auctioneer’s Song.

Hairspray – A local 4-H advisor holds a clinic on how parents should groom their child’s steer for the upcoming county fair.

Les Miserables – The story of three cow buyers and their lamentable lives.

Hello Dolly – A documentary on the subject of cloning.

Damn Yankees – A surprise visit by an auditor from the Packers and Stockyards administration has the market owner ready to rebel from the Union.

The Seven Year Itch – An uplifting saga in which the lousy villain is killed by our heroes… Ivomec and Dectomax.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – Special Charolais influenced feeder calf sale.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ – A panel of three packers deny collusion, captive supplies and monopolistic tendencies and then take turns buying that day’s cull cow offering.

Nine to Five – A rancher contemplates the odds of a mad cow being found in Canada on the same day he sells his butcher cows.

To Be Or Not to Be – A cattle feeder agonizes over the moral implications of whether or not he should abort the load of preggy heifers his order buyer just bought.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas – A sale barn owner in the Lone Star state comes up with yet another way to diversify his business and utilize his facility.

email lee pitts at itsdapitts@charter.net