Program Notes: Arts Blog |

Friday, December 14, 2012

"South Side Stories" gets extended run

Posted By on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 12:02 PM

It’s the final weekend for the regular run of Tami Dixon’s hit one-woman show at City Theatre. Those shows might already be sold out. But South Side Stories is a big enough hit that City’s bringing it back for a week in January.

Get your tickets now, though: Seats for the six additional performances at the South Side theater, Jan. 8-13, probably won’t last long.

The show’s been widely praised, including in this review by CP’s Ted Hoover.

But a couple things are worth noting about the show, which I previewed in CP and then saw last week.

One, the series of characters Dixon plays (most based on oral-history-style interviews) embody a couple distinctions that might not be apparent to non-South Siders heading in cold.

While the show takes place in the present, for instance, it’s only partly about the “South Side” that the name conjures for most people today, a booze-flooded party district. (As a recent former long-time South Sider myself, I’d add that it’s a booze-flooded party district only about 15 hours a week, and the rest of the time a pretty decent neighborhood.) The play’s mostly about the experience of people who'd lived there for decades and outlasted the collapse of the steel industry that for a century was the neighborhood’s lifeblood.

Second, Dixon is a resident of the South Side Slopes, which is adjacent to but distinct from the area most people know, the Flats. Many of the characters in South Side Stories are Slopes residents, too. The Slopes are buffered from bar traffic, if not from change in the broader sense, and the play would surely have had a different feel had Dixon lived in the Flats.

Still, what might seem most alien to audiences who didn’t grow up in the sort of tight-knit neighborhood Dixon’s characters recall is the feel of a lived-in community — one that people inhabit their whole lives, and where families dwelt for generations. It’s another trait of the neighborhood that Dixon depicts beautifully, but it’s one that in our increasingly transient society is more and more outside of people’s experience.

Tickets for South Side Stories start at $35. Call 412-431-2489 or see

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Friday, December 7, 2012

“No Home No Job …” at Silver Eye

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Will Steacy’s monster installation (in fact he calls it “The Beast”) about the long slow death of the American Dream is well worth seeing before it closes Dec. 15.

Steacy’s a fiercely committed, nationally known photojournalist, and No Home No Job No Peace No Rest, at Silver Eye Center for Photography, includes a few dozen of his powerful images of human and material urban devastation from around the country.

But the exhibit’s centerpiece — perhaps unprecedented at Silver Eye — isn’t a photographic work, but rather a two-wall-sized collage-style assembly years in the making. Silver Eye is the first place to show it.

Here’s a photo from the gallery’s website of Steacy at work on The Beast:


The newspaper articles and headlines, magazine ads, cigarette packs and handwritten notes he employs date from the early 1980s to today. That’s basically Steacy’s lifespan, and the same time period many have identified as when prosperity and even simple security began to slip from the grasp of the ordinary American worker.

A recurring figure is Marvel Comics’ Captain America, typically captured in dire straits or some howl of rage. The superhero is effectively a guide through the work, whose main theme is the decline of the country’s industrial base and ceaseless erosion of family-supporting jobs.

While Steacy stitches the images together cleverly, and sometimes with a surreal edge, his analysis isn’t what you’d call subtle. There are clear bad guys — Reagan, Wall Street greedheads — and obvious victims. The only thing resembling an up-note comes with the grim triumphalism of a passage celebrating the killing of Osama bin Laden.

However, the artist forcefully makes a point too many of our fellow citizens ignore: For a large and growing portion of our neighbors, life’s getting more hopeless, and our politics and policies are what’s to blame.

And here’s Robert Raczka’s formal review of the show for CP.

Silver Eye is open Tuesdays through Saturdays at 1015 E. Carson St., on the South Side.

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