An actor’s life: Making a living in the Twin Cities

First of three parts

Bob Davis in the dressing room just prior to taking the stage as Rosse in the Guthrie's production of "Macbeth."
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Bob Davis in the dressing room just prior to taking the stage as Rosse in the Guthrie’s production of “Macbeth.”

Bob Davis describes his role as the Thane of Rosse in the Guthrie Theater‘s current production of Shakespeare’s “MacBeth” as “the character that has the most lines that you’re least likely to remember. He’s a carrier of information.”

For him, going out on the Guthrie’s famous Wurtele Thrust Stage is “still a thrill.”

“I think it’s the most respected theater in the country and to actually work there…is an honor and a privilege”, he says.

Davis is living the dream career that he and wife, Mary Alette, set out on almost three decades ago when they moved to Minneapolis after studying acting together in southern California. They wanted to “raise a family and do plays” and decided that Mary Alette’s hometown was the best place to do that.

Davis has now been in more than 50 different productions at the Guthrie, remaining steadily employed there since his first role as the Chaplain in “Leon & Lena (and lenz)” back in 1987.

I first met Davis back in the mid ’90s when I taught two of his sons at Windom School in Minneapolis. We reconnected recently and I realized that he and Mary Alette have raised their three sons — Charlie, 27, Max, 24, and Jack, 20 — and put them through college on a local actor’s salary. I wanted to know more about what that’s been like. Bob invited me into his home to tell me about it — and then took me to work with him.

Davis' family, left to right: Sons Max, Jack, Charlie, wife Mary Alette and Bob.
Courtesy of the Davis family
Davis’ family, left to right: Sons Max, Jack, Charlie, wife Mary Alette and Bob.

I’ve produced a three-part videos series about Davis and the Guthrie’s production of “MacBeth.” My video camera takes us to places that many theatergoers wonder about, but most of us never see.

In today’s installment, Davis talks about what it’s been like to piece together a living as an actor in the Twin Cities, mostly in stage roles, but also commercial work and the occasional movie role.

In the second video, we’ll visit the Guthrie’s main stage for “fight call,” the fight choreography rehearsal that takes place prior to every performance of “MacBeth.” Davis also shares his love for playing Shakespeare and talks about his experiences in the “Brazil” theater workshop for children that he and Mary Alette ran for 10 years, teaching children to do Shakespeare plays.

In the third video segment, Davis will take us on a rare backstage tour of the Guthrie as actors prepare to go on stage for a performance of “MacBeth.”

Part one: Making a living in the Twin Cities
Part two: ‘Shakespeare is designed to be played’

Part three: A rare look backstage at the Guthrie

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Steve Hendrickson on 03/19/2010 - 12:43 am.

    Bob Davis is the genuine article- a stage chameleon, good director, father, husband and genuinely nice guy. One of the first people I worked with upon moving back to the TC in 1989, we have remained friends ever since. I have never seen him give a performance that wasn’t nuanced, compelling and utterly original. Ave Bob!

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