Sunday, May 31, 2009

Santa Cruz Theatre

A small rectangular room is tucked just a couple feet from the sidewalk. The walkway in front of the room is covered in semi-shiny squares of tiles, marking the space as uniquely different from the dull pedestrian sidewalk a couple steps away. The lower part of the wall is decorated in the same shiny tiles, the upper walls of the room are made of Plexiglas, their opaqueness reveals the three uniformed attendants inside the space. They wear matching black pants and pristine white collared shirts. Above the shirt is a maroon polyester vest and at the collar line is a shiny black bowtie. They are sitting in a row a foot away from the glass wall, a small blue tiled ledge in front of them acts as a table. Each person sits on a black padded chair, spaced in precise intervals. A small bendable microphone on a metal chord is connected to the glass in front of them and the microphone extends from the clear wall to their mouths and stops just an inch away from their lips. Before each uniformed attendant is a large computer monitor and beyond the glass wall are three lines of people that extend to the pedestrian sidewalk.
On either side of the glass room are two double glass doors, on the left are the exit doors, on the right is the entrance. A uniformed gatekeeper stands behind a blue tiled podium just a foot behind the open door. He is a big man and wears the same outfit as the people in the glass room. Resting on the podium’s flat surface is a list of the nine cinemas and the times that each movie will be playing. Past the gatekeeper is a flat surface of shiny tiles that stretches four feet and then abruptly ends at the flight of stairs.
They are smooth, shiny stairs, made of the same tiles that decorate the outer plaza and the gatekeeper’s podium. There are at least 100 stairs and they reach from wall to wall, at least fifty feet across, and rise to the upper level. Directly in the middle, breaking the lines of the continuous smooth stairs is a softly humming escalator which has one rotating flight of metal stairs going up and another beside it, going down.
At the crest of the stairs is a smooth, wide open floor covered in maroon carpet. The soft flooring is accented in squiggly lines of royal blue and yellow and punctuated by fluffy kernels of dropped popcorn. The upper level is shaped like a square donut, the wide open area of the stairs resembling the square donut’s middle. Except for the opening to the escalators and stairs, a four foot Plexiglas wall rings the large open hole. There are four leather benches placed against the Plexiglas railing on each of its three sides and people sit there, popping kernels of popcorn into their mouths while staring at the advertisements that line the walls.
The overall lighting is dim, there are carefully placed spot lights around the periphery of the large room that shine on the cardboard cutouts of an upcoming feature, and there is some wandering light from the neon signs of the concession stand, but there are no large chandeliers or grand lamps, it is just slightly brighter than the subdued cinemas themselves.
At the far end of the wall and directly in front of the stairs, is the long concession stand. Neon lights advertise popcorn and soda. There are eight different lines with a couple of people in each, each line ends at a thick Formica countertop, a tan cash register and a uniformed teenager. The wall behind the attendants is covered in glass and in front of the wall are 3 Plexiglas cases of yellow popcorn, made brighter with the accented yellow spotlights that shine upon them. Soda machines spurt and wizz in carbonation and a hotdog wheel spins endlessly on the far right side of the counter.

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