Professional acting couple balance Chattanooga life, careers after family's move from New York City

Professional acting couple balance Chattanooga life, careers after family's move from New York City

January 17th, 2012 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment

Katie Forbes and her husband, Stevie Ray Dallimore, teach theater classes at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The couple moved here with their two children from New York City more than a year ago, but both have continued their professional stage and screen acting careers.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

After nearly two decades as an actress in New York City, Kate Forbes thought at one point she'd "cut off her arm" after moving to Chattanooga more than a year ago with her husband and two children.

ABOUT THEM

* Name: Kate Forbes, Stevie Ray Dallimore.

* Age: 40s

* Raised: Chattanooga (her), Salt Lake City (him).

* Education: Bachelor's degree, Sarah Lawrence College; Master of Fine Arts, New York University (her); bachelor's degree, University of Utah; internship, The Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, D.C. (him).

* They met: On tour with The Acting Company about 15 years ago.

* Children: Rose, 11; Nathaniel, 9.

FAVORITE ROLES

* Forbes: Portia in "The Merchant of Venice" with F. Murray Abraham at Theater for a New Audience Off-Broadway and then with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, England; Janis Joplin in "Love, Janis" at the Village Theater Off-Broadway.

* Dallimore: Pato Dooley in Tony Award-winning "Beauty Queen of Leenane on Broadway; cast of "Henry IV" with Kevin Kline and Ethan Hawke at Lincoln Center; Father Brendan Flynn in Tony Award-winning "Doubt" on Broadway.

THEIR CO-STARS

* Forbes: George C. Scott, Julie Harris, Tony Randall, Charles Durning, Kelsey Grammar, Laura Linney.

* Dallimore: Jeremy Irons, Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup, Dame Eileen Atkins, Jeff Goldblum, Seann William Scott.

HOBBIES

* Forbes: Gardening, learning to play ukulele.

* Dallimore: : Hiking, bicycling, hanging out with his children.

She and her actor husband, Stevie Ray Dallimore, have learned to have the best of both worlds by developing theatrical projects and raising their children. Still, they continue their professional careers on stage and screen.

"I don't know whether it's easier or harder," said Forbes, who grew up in Chattanooga. "But [returning to acting] makes me appreciate it that much more when I get to do it. I don't take it lightly. It means everything to me."

Forbes appeared last fall in an acclaimed production of "The Crucible" at the Hartford Stage in Hartford, Conn. Since moving to Chattanooga, Dallimore has had parts in the film "Joyful Noise," which opened in theaters on Friday, "American Reunion," which opens this spring, the television movie "The Natalee Holloway Story" and an episode of the Lifetime network's "Drop Dead Diva."

"The South has opened up tremendously ... for the film and TV industry," Dallimore said. "So my agency in New York opened shop in Atlanta as well. So I actually am able to audition in Atlanta. I also audition from my living room."

Since moving to Chattanooga, the couple have started The Muse of Fire Project, in which a diverse ggroup of children write plays that adults direct and act out.

In addition, Forbes is producing an audio book of Appalachian folk tales.

Both also teach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and live in an area where, as Dallimore said, "the kids [have] a chance to run around."

Q: Why would two professional actors come to Chattanooga to live?

A: Dallimore: We saw an opportunity. First of all, our apartment in New York was getting way too small. We have two children, and we needed some space, and we needed something different. We feel like we're pretty edgy by moving outside of New York, actually. And since Kate's from here, we've visited here many times throughout the years, and I've always liked this city.

A: Forbes: My family is still here. I love New York, I call myself a southern New Yorker, but I've always missed home, and I'm glad to be around my family and to have them be part of my children's lives, so that's certainly part of it. And there're certain artistic ideas that I feel like I can only produce down here.

Q: What projects are you involved with in Chattanooga?

A: Dallimore: The Muse of Fire Project is the main project that we work on consistently, and we will have some shows coming up again in mid-April. Thus far, we've done three productions. And we build a little bit each time, and we collaborate each time with a few more people to build more interest.

A: Forbes: Part of our goal with that -- this is based on a company we worked with in New York called 52nd Street Project -- is we get 10 kids each time ... from 10 different areas of Chattanooga [who] might not normally be around each other. ... [We're trying to] be a place where different groups come together.

Q: How do you audition in your living room?

A: Dallimore: Basically I set up a camera, have a microphone that attaches to it, I have a lighting set-up, and one person stands behind the camera and the other person stands on the other end, and we read the scenes more often than not back to each other.

Q: What is your teaching involvement at UTC?

A: Forbes: In New York, I taught on a professional level at graduate acting programs and conservatory programs for [New York University], Fordham, master's classes at Yale, that sort of thing, but here there is no place for me to teach at that level. What they need here and are able to give me is ... introduction to theater for non-theater majors ... so it's been an interesting challenge and fulfilling ... but they were kind enough to give us jobs. We're just adjuncts. We're not tenured, so we are not in control of the program, but they're trying to make use of us, which is incredibly generous.

A: Dallimore: This is my first year teaching officially, and I teach two classes. One is an introduction to performance class, ... and my other one is an acting for camera class for the theater majors. ... The business that we've been in for so long, as fulfilling as ... that is, there's also something that [is] missing, I think, ... and that is a kind of give-back, a kind of being of service. ... And there's something very much inherent in this town that people are like that, and we want to be able to help [too].

Q: Do you see yourself ever returning to New York?

A: Dallimore: I think it's been on both our minds honestly at different times. In one way, sometimes, it feels like this is a great experiment, but at the same time we are committing to this community, and we are working within it, and our children are being educated [here] and making friends, and we have family here.

A: Forbes: You do just never know in our business, believe me. Your heart gets broken as many times as you get the greatest feeling in the world from it. Especially since I'm older in the business ... I can't deny [the lure] of working with certain people, certain directors, on certain roles -- yes!