Jacob Hartje is making his second appearance on the Theatre B stage, as Cecil, in Equivocation. You may have seen Jacob performing with The LineBenders over the years. Jacob enjoys cooking, writing, and is a bit of a music fanatic. You can see him onstage in Equivocation through the end of the month.
TB: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
JH: I grew up in Fargo, spent a lot of time outside as a kid and have always been really interested in exploring. After I finished high school I traveled, spent a lot of time couch surfing and trying to see as much of the country as I could. I’m definitely a nomadic soul, I try to travel whenever I can. Right now I work as a direct care professional with special needs individuals, and I love it. I feel like I’m making a difference in the world, making people’s lives better one small thing at a time.
TB: When did you first start performing?
JH: When I was kid I was always role playing, pretending to be someone else. I remember my parents having to ask to speak with Jacob, rather than the pirate or spy that I was pretending to be that afternoon. My first real performance was actually part of a middle school English project, I wrote a story, one of my classmates read it out loud to the class while I acted it out. After that my teacher suggested I audition for the school play, Orpheus and the Underworld and I was hooked.
TB: What was next for you?
JH: I was always musical, before acting I was singing in choir (Red River Valley Boys Choir and school choirs). So it was almost inevitable that I would get involved in the musical somehow, and sophomore year of high school I played the bookseller in Fiddler on the Roof. I also joined the improv team, Donkey Hotey’s Improvcicals, and that’s where I really started to find my groove. I’ve been actively doing improv work since then; I’m a member of The LineBenders, and have been involved with them in some way since 2001.
TB: How does your improv experience influence your performance?
JH: Hopefully in a positive way! I bring the foundations of improv to my stage performances. I’m always thinking about “yes, and” and trying to answer the who, what, where and why questions. Thinking about these things helps me analyze the piece and create a strong character. In improv you have to be comfortable enough to make a bold decision and accept that it might be a mistake, I try to bring this to rehearsal with me. Improv is also an ensemble centric activity, which encourages me to trust my cast mates and director throughout the process.
TB: What are your other artistic interests?
JH: I write fiction and am currently trying to get my work out there. I’ve been in a number of short films in the area; a lot of them are student directed. I have also been in a couple of local commercials and assist with crisis intervention training.
TB: What do you enjoy most about working with Theatre B?
JH: Working on this piece with Theatre B has allowed me to create something bigger than myself and be a part of bringing great art to our community. There is such a strong arts scene in Fargo-Moorhead, which is great, and I appreciate any opportunity to be a part of it. I think I have grown a lot as a performer doing this piece; Cecil has been the most challenging role of my career. Also, everyone involved in this process has been great, they all work so hard, which has pushed me harder to give the best performances I can each night. The process has been full of new challenges, and it has been a very rewarding experience.