Tami Dixon is an actor, writer and teacher entering her 10th year as producing artistic director of Bricolage Production Company. In between producing SCarrie: The Musical (catch their especially spooky Halloween Prom Night on October 31st!) and rehearsing to play Blanche in barebones’ upcoming production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Tami finds time for “Inspiration Day” at work, date night and lots of walks for Odie. Keep up with this creative powerhouse in NEXT Up.
I begin every day with yoga and meditation. Getting to a studio is often hard with my busy schedule, and not to mention expensive, so I’ve cultivated a dedicated home practice. But, if I had my choice I’d go to my girl, Stacey Vespaziani’s South Hills Power Yoga Studio. She’s an amazing entrepreneur with a thriving business and is one of the masterminds behind OMs in the Outfield, an event that had us downward dogging on the field of dreams at PNC Park and Yoga at the Warhol coming in November.
My days consist of back-to-back meetings with brainstorming and downloading sessions squeezed in between. This Monday afternoon I’ll spend in Braddock, PA at The New Guild Art and Design Studios. They specialize in iconography and sacred art. Beautifully handcrafted, original work forged in the heart of Braddock for over two decades. We’re aiming to collaborate with them on our Spring 2015 immersive project, Saint’s Tour.
Monday night I’m going to barebones productions’ annual fundraiser, The Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Regent Square Theater. My husband and co-conspirator, Jeffrey Carpenter, will be playing Dr. Everett V. Scott alongside an incredibly talented group of Pittsburghers. I’m a softy for people who can sing, so I’ll be there to cheer them on and support Patrick and his company as they prepare to mount A Streetcar Named Desire.
Tuesday morning and afternoon I’ll be attending Unsung Majority at the Kauffman Center in The Hill. The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation commissioned a study to find out what might contribute to the earned growth and artistic evolution of small arts organizations with budgets less than 1.5 million. I’m excited to connect with organizations similar to ours to share best practices, as well as learn how we can better contribute to and engage with our community.
Tuesday evening is the first rehearsal for A Streetcar Named Desire. I have been coveting the role of Blanche since I was in high school. She’s such a complex character; a fighter who’s haunted by loss, addiction and mental illness. She is bold and big and soft and fragile all at the same time. I have to pinch myself every time I think about the privilege of saying Tennessee Williams’ incredible words at the beautiful New Hazlett Theater. Plus, I get to work opposite my husband who will be playing Mitch. In all the years that we’ve been working together we have never shared the stage in any substantial way. The cast and artistic team that Patrick has put together is phenomenal and I have a feeling this show is going to be EPIC. Get your tickets now!
Every Wednesday at lunchtime Jeffrey and I meet with our creative partners in crime, Gab Cody and Sam Turich (of the film, Progression) to brainstorm ideas and share our findings on what’s happening in the world of Immersive Theatre. At the moment we are working on three different projects in cities all over the country. It takes us about a year to devise our experiences and our weekly meetings keep us motivated, inspired and relevant. This week’s lunch is at Sienna Mercato. I’m a veggie and I always appreciate chefs who think outside the meat box. I’ll probably get the veggie style “saucy balls” over beans and greens with arrabbiata sauce.
The evening brings yet another meeting and another meal. This time we’re breaking bread with BricoPatrons who have become dear friends. We’re going to try Gus’s Café in Lawrenceville. I love that they have Red Star Kombucha on tap and diverse veggie selections like the Tachos (that’s tots covered with cheese and salsa!) and Adzuki bean burgers.
At Bricolage we dedicate one day a week as “Inspiration Day” where we take no meetings, and do very little work-work. Instead we catch up on reading, have lunch with friends we’ve missed, investigate what other theatre companies are doing all over the world and generally do anything to fill up our creativity tanks. I will often go to the lobby of the William Penn hotel, sit in one of their wing-backed chairs and write. It’s also a great place to people watch. Acting is the study of human beings in relation to each other (IMHO), and what better way to observe people in action than to watch them in public. I’m no peeping Tina, but let’s just say not everybody is there for the continental breakfast. Wink, wink. People are fascinating!
My husband and I work together and live together—we’re hardly ever apart—and even after all these years, I still miss him when he’s gone for an hour. But, it takes a ton of effort to leave work at work and manifest free time that has nothing to do with theatre. We try to go on dates as often as possible, and one of our favorite restaurants is Dish Osteria in the South Side. The atmosphere reminds me of the East Village back in the day, and the care that Michele puts into his food warms my soul every time I take a bite of his Polpo alla Griglia or the Fettucce ai Funghi Selvaggi. After dinner we love to cap the night off with a cocktail at Acacia. Their hand-crafted hootch in vintage glassware and speakeasy atmosphere makes them a go-to spot for unique late-night fare in our neighborhood, without all the South Side jag-baggery.
Friday morning (if weather permits) I’ll walk to work with our awesome dog and Bricolage mascot, Odie. We live high on the Slopes and so we walk the 500 city steps down to the flats, take the river trail from the new South Shore Riverfront Park, walk under the 10th Street Bridge, through Station Square and over the Smithfield Street Bridge into downtown Pittsburgh. Walking near the Mon with views of our incredible city quiets my inner taskmaster, fills me with inspiration and preps me for a productive day.
In the afternoon the BricoTeam will take a trip to Construction Junction to look for office furniture for our newest team member. We try not to buy anything new and instead make artful use of what’s at hand (the meaning of the word bricolage). Construction Junction is a great place to look for used chairs, desks and paint. We also find tons of material to build Foley props for Midnight Radio, like the “shower” in the plug-it-up scene of, SCarrie: The Musical. Speaking of Midnight Radio, this Halloween is Prom Night at Bricolage! Our latest Midnight Radio episode is a hilarious musical parmage (parody and homage) of Stephen King’s classic novel, Carrie. During the Happy Half Hour before the show, we’ll crown two audience members dressed in their best (or bloodiest) prom attire as prom King and Queen, serve spiked punch, pose for prom photos and send a couple of delinquents to “detention.”
The weekend is finally here and the work is still not over, but it’s important that we balance out our busy schedules with activities that bring us peace. Odie comes to work with us every day. He would go to parties and restaurants with us if he were allowed. If he weren’t such a big boy I’d carry him around in a baby bjorn and take him on the bus, to important meetings with fancy people and to coffee shops. His favorite walk is anywhere there are trees and squirrels. We go to Raccoon State Park, Schenley, Frick, Highland Park, South Park (did you know they have buffalo there?!?!?!?!?!?) and if we’re lucky, we’ll drive to the Laurel Highlands for some super nature. Pittsburgh has an incredible amount of green and river space and we do our best to take advantage. Odie has even been on a jet ski with his papa. I have photos!
On Sundays we go to the movies. This week we’re seeing Dear White People. I do a lot of social justice work around anti-racism and white privilege. We live in a country that has an incredibly toxic past, and since we haven’t really faced it as a nation, we’re seeing the results of centuries of oppression playing out with horrific results. The next great shift in consciousness needs to be around the awareness and dismantling of white privilege. One way to combat white privilege is to educate yourself. WWHAT’S UP? (Whites Working and Hoping to Abolish Total Supremacy Undermining Privilege), GPAC and The Coalition for Racial Equity are great places to begin learning how you can contribute to this shift.
Photo by Becky Thurner