BY JACLYN ROSE –
The middle child of a Lutheran Minister, Tim Hesse was born in Nebraska but moved every 3 years as a child. “I have older sisters that are identical twins and they are gorgeous and then a younger brother. I was the uninteresting middle child,” Hesse said with a grin. “Because of that and the fact that we were constantly moving, which caused me to always be the new kid, I had to learn to blend in to be like every one else. I think that caused me to gravitate towards theater. I needed to be liked and I learned the ability to analyze a situation. I learned to become like a character.”
Hesse began acting at a very young age, starting with church pageants as a young child, he quickly learned he had a good singing voice and that having the ability to stand out gave him attention. After being involved in different theater groups for kids, he attended Augustana College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Theater.
Eventually Hesse’s parents found their way to Mena, where his father served as the minister of Trinity Lutheran Church. When his mother started to develop some health problems eight years ago, Hesse moved to Polk County to assist in taking care of them. Almost immediately he became involved in the Ouachita Little Theater (OLT). “It’s interesting the plan God has for us, I have lived in New Jersey, right outside of New York, and had planned to get involved in theater there but I was so busy. It was not until I moved to Mena that I was able to really get involved. The people were very accepting and welcoming and in the 8 years I’ve been here I’ve been involved in every production but two,” explained Hesse.
Currently Hesse serves as the President of the Ouachita Little Theater Board of Directors. He also assists in productions by acting, directing, building sets, costumes, and most recently has learned how to run lights and sound. He was involved in both plays that the OLT took to the state competition, the second of which he directed. Both times the OLT won the state competition.
“The OLT serves a great function in this area. We went to Wal-Mart for a grant and they were telling us how there used to be bands of kids that would walk around the store, and they had to hire more security. Now they drive by the theater and those same kids are there and they are doing something. We also have the Junior Ouachita Little Theater (JOLT) program; students can do workshops and learn to act and direct plays. Theater teaches you to question, it trains your brain to ask the story behind the story,” explained Hesse.
The OLT has a broad minded goal, according to Hesse: to bring together all of the different areas of Polk County involved in theater, the high schools, Rich Mountain Community College, and the theater, in the next five years, and produce the play, “The Phantom of the Opera” as a community. “Theater is an unusual organization where people can come from all religions and all political views and work towards a common goal. You can check all those beliefs and work towards something together, any one and every one can join,” said Hesse.
Theater is not the only thing that interests Hesse, he is also involved in designing his own fashion and has tried out for Project Runway five times, and The Voice once. “We life in a different age,” Hesse explained, “you can now post a YouTube video of yourself and be discovered. I think this just reaffirms that you should just be yourself. I’ve heard that you should ‘be an authentic version of yourself instead of a weak version of someone else.’”
“I feel like the entire rest of the world could end and we’d still be here in Polk County, because it is a safe place. We are not affected by what is going on in the outside world, by what is going on in TV. I think the people here are a little like sheep that want to be lead, if you lead them in the right way they will be very accepting,” said Hesse.