PGH Spotlight: Tami Dixon Brings South Side History to Life

Tami Dixon considers herself to be somewhat of an anthropologist of human life, "digging through our human experience in figuring out how it is to survive and live." When she moved to the South Side  slopes, she became so enthralled with the community, that she began researching it and unveiling the history and vivacity of a steel making town and the people in it. She collected interviews and stories, studied and memorized their characters, and weaved them into her 75 minute one-woman-show South Side Stories.

Dixon is a  powerhouse of a creator with a repertoire that includes playwright, actress, CMU acting alumni, director and co-founder of Bricolage Theater. She spent 10 years in New York City "doing the things actors do," as Dixon puts it, before meeting her husband Jeffery Carpenter, founder of Bricolage Theater and coming to Pittsburgh. As a Cleveland native, Dixon said that she resonated with Pittsburgh almost instantaneously. "I'm from a blue collared city [Cleveland], I'm from a city with an industrial past, I'm from a city that has reinvented itself or in terms of Cleveland that has sort of struggled, for a while about identity, about who you are after your industry fails or disappears, and salt of earth people, people who are hard working, people who work hard, drink hard, play hard, people who love their sports.  So Pittsburgh resonated with me immediately, I felt a connection the moment I arrived and the more I started exploring this community the more I was fascinated by my community specifically which is the Southside."

"The view I have [from her home] is pretty incredible, and I think that 50-60 years ago, it wasn't that view,  it was a lot of pollution and a lot of black smoke and the mill took up 150 acres down on the flats and everyday 15,000 men and women came out of those mills from making the steel that built the rest of our country," said Dixon. She wondered about the components that made up the South Side we know today; how a community can go from a flourishing industrial revolution to a place that is now obsolete.

"I'm just really curious about human beings.  I always have been, I'm interested in their story. I feel like we're sort of wounded people and I wanted to know more about these people."  She utilizes her artistic talents as both a playwright and actress to transform herself into the interesting people of South Side, translating their stories and bringing them to life.

This is the last week to see South Side Stories, showing Wednesday through Sunday.  To find out more information on the show click HERE.

cover pic: pop city media

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