Interview with Jacob Hartje, Simon in The Last Schwartz

What is The Last Schwartz about?  

The Last Schwartz is a glimpse into the lives and family structure of four siblings and their significant others. The play takes place on their father’s Yahrzeit, a Jewish tradition of lighting a candle on the anniversary of someone’s death, especially a parent’s. As the play unfolds it touches on traditional upheaval, establishing the new normal, and all things unpredictable in life. While the foundation of the subject matter is quite real, it is presented in a delightful comedic tone. 

Tell me about your character, Simon.   

From an acting standpoint, Simon has been a great challenge. He is a character deeply enveloped in his own mind, working to find himself and explore the cosmic mysteries of the universe. A scientist, Simon is also coping with new-onset blindness. His love for the family resonates in his unbridled honesty. 

What makes this show fit so well in Theatre B’s repertoire?   

I feel Theatre B has a purposeful intent to select shows that tell stories that give a voice to subjects not always at the forefront. Many ways of life and diversity build a strong community. Our holiday show this year celebrates a Jewish family and even demonstrates a Yahrzeit. More than representing a piece of our community, The Last Schwartz, touches on real subjects that all families face. 

What is your favorite line from the show?    

“Hey, I am totally the same.” -Kia. I chose this line because it’s an example of being true to one’s self. Social pressure, self-doubt, and trepidation of acceptance… Kia is always herself, and I admire that. 

Do you relate to any of the characters? 

I find elements of all the characters that speak to me. Taking my time to really think about it… I feel Bonnie is the character I can relate to perhaps the most. Her longing to be part of something, find that human connection, an intertwining of souls. Meeting people is one of my favorite parts of travel and life. It’s why I love theatre. We get to explore and tell stories that span the past, gender, and ethnicity. Getting to know someone helps us know ourselves. 

Any standout memories from rehearsals so far?  

This cast has been very fun to work with. We bonded quite well from the beginning. A family on stage and a fast theater family out the gates, we have fallen into the secret show language and inside jokes that come from sharing the process. More than other shows in the past I’ve felt a real collaboration. Finding Simon has been important to me.. long story short, I used Star Wars to help me memorize some of my lines, at one point near the end of the show I heard the cast singing the Imperial March from behind the set and we all bust out laughing! 

What is your theatrical background?   

I’ve done traveling comedy, short films, a feature film, commercials, musicals, plays, and DM a menagerie of characters for D&D. I’ve been acting all my life but really started on stage when I was in junior high. All added up, roughly 17 years.