Sardonis Productions makes its debut with “Pulp Theatre” on Thursday, Oct. 10 at Disjecta Gallery in located at 116 N.E. Russell St. It features three one-act plays by seasoned pulp writers Penny Dreadful, Dick Mesmer and John Broxton.
Broxton, who also wears the producer hat, describes how he decided upon the genre: “The last three times I went to see some theater in Portland, I fell asleep before the second act. So one day my partners Nicolle Nixon and Blythe Urutia and I were sitting around trying to figure out the best way to keep the audience engaged when suddenly it hit me: gunfire.”
Sardonis Productions was born five months ago in the Office of Admissions and Records at PSU where Broxton works part time. He had just finished a feature-length screenplay and sent it off to the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting (where it was judged in the top 350 scripts out of 6,100 entries) and was looking for a new project before starting another script. He had taken many theater classes at PSU and heard his co-worker Nicolle Nixon graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theater. Though they had been working together for almost six months, their conversations never ventured into the creative.
One day, Broxton approached Nixon at her cubicle. According to Broxton, the conversation went something like this:
Broxton: How’s it going?
Nixon: It’s going. What’s up?
Broxton: Oh, you know. Nothing. Trying to look busy.
Nixon: Yeah, me too.
Broxton: So, I heard you have a degree in theater.
Nicolle: That’s right.
Broxton: What are doing with it?
Nixon: At the moment, nothing.
Broxton: Let’s start a theater company.
After tossing some ideas around, Nixon and Broxton decided to enlist the help of Urutia, who also works in Admissions and Records in the processing department.
Urutia is a produced playwright who also graduated with a degree in theater. Not long after, she sent Broxton an e-mail challenging him to write a play over the weekend, offering to do the same. Delighted, Broxton accepted her offer. His work was born out of a sense of frustration and powerlessness he was feeling about the current political situation.
Friday, he went home and drew up an outline; Saturday, he wrote the play; and Sunday, he made some revisions. Monday morning, he showed what he’d written to Nixon. She loved it and thought it would make an excellent production. After reading Urutia’s play, Broxton discovered they both shared the same dark sensibilities in their work.
“Coincidentally, we were both writing crime fiction. ‘Pulp Theater’ seemed a natural extension of the themes,” he said.
Broxton is producer, writer and director. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from DePaul University and currently studies film and theater at PSU and the Northwest Film Center. This is his first production. Nixon is artistic coordinator, director and a long-time fixture in Portland’s dance scene.
Nixon has performed and designed for Kinetic Images, Upside Sketch dance company, as well as many other local productions. Most recently, she co-founded and performed with Bent Dance Company.
Urutia is production manager and director. She is an Oregon native whose plays tend to have a Northwest slant. Seattle’s Theater Babylon produced her short play “Willamette Story” recently. She graduated from PSU in 1999.
The October 10 production starts at 8 p.m. and the cost is $10. Thursday, Oct. 17, is PSU night, so bring your ID (staff, faculty or student) for $2 off regular admission. If you have any questions about tickets you can call 503-701-3139.