Posts Tagged Tami Dixon

2011 MOMENTUM Festival Schedule of Events

 City Theatre continues to live out its mission to be a home for new plays with the 2011 MOMENTUM Festival!  This year’s festival promises to be packed with big names, parties, great theatre, and informative workshops and panel discussions.  Read on to see what’s in store!

Thursday, June 2 at 7 pm | Reading of Rancho Mirage
a dark comedy by Steven Dietz
All hell breaks loose at Rancho Mirage, a seemingly picture-perfect upscale housing development, when three couples gather for a hilariously ill-fated dinner party. The author of Shooting Star and Honus & Me returns to City Theatre with a blistering send-up of marriage and suburbia.

Friday, June 3 at 8 pm | Reading of POP!
with Anthony Rapp as Andy Warhol!
a rock musical murder mystery by Maggie-Kate Coleman and Anna K. Jacobs
To be produced next May as part of City Theatre’s 2011/12 Season! Who shot Andy Warhol? Welcome to the pop icon’s legendary Factory, where every artist has talent, ego, and a motive to pull the trigger. Variety calls this wild musical collage “vibrant, hip, fresh, and a hell of a lot of fun.” Join us after the reading for a party in City Theatre’s Gordon Lounge!

Saturday, June 4 at 1 pm | Writing Workshop: “Story-Making for the Stage”
Master playwright Steven Dietz, who co-heads the prestigious M.F.A. playwriting program at the University of Texas at Austin, leads writers at any level—experienced and novice alike—in a look at the fundamentals of theatrical narrative and some strategies to create/explore/interrogate them. No previous writing experience necessary– just bring a pencil, a notebook, and a creative frame of mind! 

Saturday, June 4 at 3 pm | Reading of South Side Stories
written and performed by Pittsburgh’s own Tami Dixon
“What’s your South Side story?” That’s what local actress Tami Dixon asked as she traveled the South Side with her “story wagon,” collecting the true tales of the people she met in the shops, bars, and streets of her Pittsburgh neighborhood. The theatre piece inspired by her journey is a fascinating, moving, and funny tribute to the memories and community built on the flats and slopes of Pittsburgh’s South Side.

Saturday, June 4 at 6 pm | Playwrights Panel
The Compleat Playwright
The MOMENTUM ‘11 writers live and work in cities across the nation, and collectively they are also experienced actors, directors, teachers, and producers of acclaimed theatre companies. Get the inside scoop on how they’ve navigated such rewarding careers and what the Compleat Playwright’s “tool box” must include for success in the contemporary theatre.

Saturday, June 4 at 8 pm | Reading of Rich Girl
A new play by Victoria Stewart
Claudine falls head over heels for Henry, a starving artist. Unfortunately, Claudine’s financial guru mother has her doubts. Is Henry everything her daughter has been looking for? Or is he after something else? A modern adaptation of Henry James’ Washington Square, Victoria Stewart’s Rich Girl examines how women relate to men, mothers, and money … in that order. Join us after the reading for a party in City Theatre’s Gordon Lounge.

Sunday, June 5 at 3 pm | Encore reading of POP!
featuring Anthony Rapp

For more information, call 412-431-CITY.  We hope to see you there!


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Time Flies

by Carlyn Aquiline, Literary Manager and Dramaturg
Anyone who hasn’t seen The Clockmaker still has one last weekend to do so, thanks to a formula of popular demand + snow that required us to extend the show. Performances are Friday at 8, Saturday at 5:30 and 9 and Sunday at 2. If you didn’t read Sloan’s e-mails with the links to the great reviews, here you go again:

Gordon Spencer, Pittsburgh City Paper

Alice Carter, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Chris Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette blog                       

It’s hard to believe we’re at the show’s end—time has passed quickly. Before he takes off again for New York and future engagements, we wanted to touch base with Harry Bouvy once more. If the reviews have not convinced you to see The Clockmaker, then let me make a pitch that you see it for Harry’s portrayal of Heinrich Mann, the title character. Charming, funny, sad, sweet, poignant—he will touch you where you live. The memory of his onstage relationship with Frieda (Tami Dixon) will be one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Harry with plawright Stephen Massicotte at the opening night party.

Carlyn Aquiline: So we’re about to enter the final week of The Clockmaker. And in keeping with the themes of the play, time sure has flown! What kinds of discoveries did you continue to make through the run of the show that hadn’t emerged yet in rehearsal?

Harry Bouvy: How funny the play is. You can never really know everything about a play until the audience arrives. While we knew there was humor in the play, I’m not sure we knew the degree to which people would find it funny. The laughter comes in many different forms, mostly out of the audience’s need to release the tension in the room because, let’s face it, there’s a lot of tension and conflict in the play. 

CA: The play is a puzzle for the audience to solve, and of course people solve puzzles at their own pace. What does the audience “feel” like from the stage for this show? Have you felt like there’s a moment, though, before the final scene when a lot of people have clicked and gotten it—have had the “aha” moment? Or does the puzzle pull them right into the final scene before they get the solution?

HB: It varies. It’s funny that you put it that way—what does the audience “feel” like. I often talk about how the audience “sounds” as the play goes along. The sound of an audience is sometimes as confusing for actors as the plot of the play is for the audience.  If the audience is silent during a moment that usually gets a laugh, you immediately think, “oh wow…. that joke really bombed.” But it can also mean an audience is really listening intently and simply aren’t as tuned into the humor of a particular moment. So it’s not always a bad thing that the audience doesn’t laugh. Sometimes you crave an audience to tune in more to a certain moment. The reaction of the audience for this play is very unpredictable; all over the map. I do think there’s a moment just about halfway through the play when the audience starts to piece together the plot, right around the time of the bench scene under the lights in the trees. There’s something extremely sweet and accessible about that scene where the audience is finally able to exhale a little bit and love the characters. 

On the bench, under the lights in the trees.

CA: One of the great pleasures of the production is the lovely ensemble work among the actors.  Can you share two thoughts about each of the actors you’ve worked with on this show, and the relationships you’ve developed with them: 1) onstage and 2) off?

Tami and Harry celebrate on opening night.

HB: Oh gosh, it’s hard to think of just one thing about each. I would say the same thing about all three of them on stage, and that is that they are extremely present. Tami, Joel and Daryll are all extremely focused and in the moment. I think that’s why it’s such a good ensemble. We’re all very much in tune with each other and the audience, and ready to shift gears at a moment’s notice. We haven’t had a lot of opportunities to hang out together offstage because of the stupid snow, but I feel like I’ve known these people for a long time. All three are easy to love. Daryll is a seasoned pro who knows so much about life in the theatre, and I love talking to him about shows he’s done. Joel is nothing like the character he plays on stage… I want everyone to know that.

Joel and playwright Stephen Massicotte sharing the love on opening night.

He is a dear, sweet guy and loves being an actor. He is very focused on doing his absolute best at every moment. Tami is a dynamo, running her theatre company (Bricolage). She is such a passionate, caring person. She loves the theatre and loves people. I just love them all. Love love love…. 

Harry (second from left) with the Clockmaker company, (L to R) Daryll (Monsieur Pierre), Tracy (director), Tami (Frieda), Joel (Adolphus) and Stephen (playwright).

CA: We’re scheduled to have a student matinee this week. What do you hope those teenagers primarily take away from the play?

[Unfortunately, the student matinee, which had been postponed to this week because of the big snowstorm, was cancelled once again—and for good—because of more snow.]

HB: Well, mostly, I just hope they pay attention. Student matinees are rough for actors, and not only because they’re held at the ungodly hour of ten o’clock in the morning.  Teenagers can be so… well… unruly, you know? And with a play like this, that’s all over the map in terms of tone, it’s hard to keep the attention of an adult audience, let alone an audience with the attention span of a Twitter update. … But it’s important to expose kids to theatre for that very reason—to expose them to the fact that there are issues in life worth their attention, worth their time. I’d like them to go away with the knowledge that time is precious. Fleeting. That life can be beautiful and sad and tragic and uplifting. I would say to them: sit up and pay attention. Grasp every moment for its worth. … I don’t know. Mostly I just want them to not talk while I’m up there. Is that wrong? 

CA: No, that’s not wrong. We all want them not to talk while you’re up there! Once a show has opened the actors have to maintain their performances and yet there is always evolution within that. How do you feel the show has grown since opening night?

HB: Speaking for myself, I’m not as afraid of the story, which is gut-wrenching. I’m willing to go to the depths of it. Also, when we first started, I was afraid the audience wouldn’t love the play as much as I do. I go through that with many of the plays I do. I fall in love with the piece, and I want the audience to love it too. I needn’t have worried about this play. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The audience is moved by the play because it deals with issues we’ve all thought about. Also, Tami and I are a well-oiled machine at this point. It’s as if we’re the same person out there, very in tune with each other.

Mann and Frieda trying to solve the mystery of The Clockmaker.

I also think we’re not hitting it on the head as hard, you know? Less is more. Just speak the words. We’re not “sawing the air” as much, I think (to quote Hamlet). I don’t know that anyone would notice a difference if they saw the first performance versus the last one, but it feels simpler to me now, like we’ve gotten out of the play’s way.

CA: Have you heard anything that has struck you in the audience comments or questions at the talkbacks you’ve participated in?

HB: Mostly, it’s that people feel really good at the end of the play. I see a lot of smiling faces out there during the talkbacks. I wouldn’t have called this a “feel-good” show when we started rehearsals, but maybe I’m wrong about that. I’m satisfied that people have come to care about Heinrich and Frieda during the course of the play. They want to see them happy at the end. And while the end is bittersweet, I do think there’s a contentment in the characters that is extremely satisfying.

CA: In keeping with the play, what one moment will remain dear in memory about being back in Pittsburgh for a month and a half (I bet it has nothing to do with all the snow!)?

HB: No, definitely not the snow. Old Man Winter is a sour old puss. … There’s not one moment. It’s the whole experience. I’m so happy to have been around family and friends during the course of this play, especially because it’s so much about the connection between people. It’s about how people affect the course of your life. Here in Pittsburgh, I’m surrounded by the people who influenced me early in life. These influences continue to this day. I carry them with me every day, and will continue to carry them with me for the rest of my life. … Oh, and playing Barbies with my three-year-old niece. That was pretty darn great.

Keep up with Harry’s whereabouts at Hopefully, it won’t be long until he’s announcing his next return to City Theatre.

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City Theatre regular Tami Dixon receives the prestigious Fox Fellowship!

We are thrilled to announce that Tami Dixon has been awarded a Fox

Tami Dixon

Tami Dixon

Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship to develop a new performance piece titled “Slope Stories” in conjunction with City Theatre. In her residency at City Theatre Tami will collect stories from residents of the South Side Slopes and then create a one woman show based on these stories and interviews.

Click here for a splendid article about the award in the Tribune Review.

Recently at City Tami was seen as “The Girl” in A Marriage Minuet and Julie in The Missionary Position.

We are thrilled to work with Tami on this project unique to Pittsburgh and the residents of the South Side. And as the project develops we’ll tell you more about how Tami plans to gather, interweave, and share the stories of “the slopes”.

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8 Questions with Tami “The Girl” Dixon

1. When did audiences last see you on-stage at City?

The City Theatre audience might remember me cavorting around the stage as Julie, the pink shoe’d, bad haired basket case from The Missionary Position. Prior to that turn I played Dora in The Muckle Man. I was also a participant in City Theatre’s past two Momentum Festival: New Plays at Different Stages as Jessica in The 13th of Paris and Dora in The Muckle Man.

2. How many characters do you play in A Marriage Minuet?

In A Marriage Minuet I play six different version of Girl. Though most of my characters didn’t have names in the script I took it upon myself to dub them as follows: Sam (total lack of interest) “Bookstore Clerk”, Cindi (with an I) “Bookstore Customer”, Brenda (Bitch) “Waitress”, Victoria (sign my boob) “Classy Chic” and Laura (I want to write so BADLY) “Sweet One”.

3. Do you have a favorite?

Though all my “Girls” are dear to me, I think my favorite is Brenda (the bitch) Waitress. I love a character that in so few lines can convey a lifetime of pain and suffering coated in a smart-ass veil of humor.

4. Is there a trick you use when playing many characters in one play? How does it affect your approach?

This is not my first go around with playing a number of different characters in one show. I have found that the trick, as with any other character, is to approach each one specifically and distinctly. Having so few lines and therefore so little time to get the idea of who these women are across to the audience is a definite challenge. In my head I have a history for each girl and that history informs my delivery.

For instance, Sam “Bookstore Clerk”, spends her days stocking the shelves and ringing up customers, but at night she rehearses with her band “Fool For Love” in her boyfriend’s basement. She’s biding her time at the bookstore until her new CD “Women Who Run With Scissors” drops. She hopes to pick up a label and an agent so she can take her leave from inventory and ISBN numbers.

5. There are so many costume changes in the play, especially for you. What’s it like backstage?

Backstage is a traffic dance to say the least. With the crew and actors running about moving set pieces and exchanging props it can get a bit chaotic. Fortunately, we have a cast and crew of professionals very aware of their responsibilities. I make 9 costumes changes. Thanks to Marcus (our wonderful costume designer) I have a basic palate from which I add and subtract shirts and accessories. With my good friend and extraordinary dresser, Ange Vesco, I am in great hands. We have a number of very quick changes and there is an art to timing what comes off/goes on first and who is going to do what. For example at one point I run off stage from Bookstore Clerk (Sam) and jump right into Bookstore Customer (Cindi). I unzip my jacket, Ange hands me my shirt. She unties my sneakers while I button up my shirt. She hands me my glasses as I slip on my other shoes and I run to the other side of the stage all the while completing a new hairstyle to enter stage right by the time Douglas finishes his speech. I thought I would have a lot of time to lounge around in my dressing room catching up on some reading, but boy was I wrong. I’m running from the minute we start to the minute we come down.

6. What makes working on a comedy different from a drama?

Tami as Julie in THE MISSIONARY POSITIONComedy comes with its own set of rules different from the approach to a drama. You can spend a lifetime working on a joke and the appropriate delivery. Stand-up comics build their sets through years of trial and error. The audience is a very important component in the delivery and acceptance of a joke. Timing is of the essence and the inflection of the voice, the hold for listening and understanding, and the send up of the punch line requires a connection between the actor and audience. I tried my hand at Stand up comedy while living in New York and though I consider myself a fearless performer, I have never been so frightened while on that little stage in my life. That experience had to be the loneliest time I’ve ever had performing.

With drama the actor weaves the story in a sort of silence and trusts that the audience is with them every step of the way. It is rare to have the confirmation of audience understanding while performing a drama barring the occasional “ooh’s” and “gasps” that comes with the deeply dramatic tragedies. With a comedy the actor gets that confirmation immediately; laughter. I think it’s easier for people to laugh (though very hard to make people laugh) then it is for people to vocally respond to a drama; it is a rare and sacred occasion that an audience member will keen during a live performance.

The stage is, at its best, a reflection of our lives, albeit sometimes distorted like a fun-house mirror. Most people will jump at the chance to escape into humor as a means of release. Whether you laugh or cry at your life reflected on stage, the result is a movement of consciousness so necessary to the growth of humanity. Neither comedy or drama is more important than the other and it’s hard to say that one form is easier to portray. I enjoy doing both, but I will say that after a comic performance I’m left feeling light and airy.

7. And since this is a play chock-full of literary references….what are you reading right now?

Right now I’m reading a few books. I normally don’t like to start one book until the other is finished but I have been introduced to some many great books lately that I can’t help myself. I just finished up A New Earth by Eckart Tolle. This is a great book for anyone looking to make a serious change in the way they approach their life. I’m starting it all over again so I can really move away from my ego and towards the present moment. I’m also reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen. This book is a bit textbook-y, but full of sad information about the way we eat and the incredible destruction that method of eating is having on our bodies and our environment. Then there is Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury — my third attempt at getting through this book. I know I’ll love it but something is blocking me. I was inspired to pick it up again after reading about Elevator Repair Service’s stage adaptation running in NYC right now.

8. What is currently on your i-pod?

Currently on my i-pod I have about 300 songs. Since I live about a 20 minute walk from City Theatre I have had a lot of opportunities to listen to music on the go. I’m looking into starting an all female dance party (sometimes you just want to shake your sugar without being oogled or pushed up on by some sweaty mouth breather) and so I’ve been rocking out to Beyonce. I love that woman. She has an incredible voice and her lyrics are so damn funny. She also has phat beats which help to get me to the theatre in record time. I also love me some Amy Winehouse. That girl can throw and her lyrics are also pretty funny.

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2 Smashing Reviews

Chris Rawson of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Click Here:

Alice Carter of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Click Here:

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