Katie Hartman was burned.
That was late February 2020. And over the previous six weeks, Hartman – one of the duos known as the Coldharts – had done one show after another.
“It was awesome,” Hartman said. “But it wasn’t that great either. I was motivated and I was ambitious. But I didn’t know how I was going to continue with a schedule like that.
Then COVID-19 arrived.
“I was so relieved,” she said, giggling as she realized how absurd that must have sounded. After all, COVID has thrown the world into a spiral of uncertainty. And it completely turned Hartman’s acting profession upside down. “I was terrified, but I was also relieved.”
Despite the setback of nearly everyone involved in the performing arts, Hartman can now see that the pandemic has saved her from the relentless theatrical treadmill she and partner Nick Ryan have lived on for many years. It gave him a chance to step back, take a step back and re-evaluate his career.
No, Hartman hasn’t stopped performing. And yes, she still lives in New York, though she opted for a Hudson River community north of the city instead of the more restless climes of Brooklyn.
For many of us, Hartman’s appointment came as a surprise. It was hard to imagine him walking away from the stage, even briefly, and taking on an administrative role. She appeared four times as part of Cincy Fringe; “The Legend of White Woman Creek” (2014), “Edgar Allan” (2015), “The Unrepentant Necrophiliac” (2016) and “Eddie Poe” (2018). And each time, the public was struck by his disproportionate presence as a performer. He’s the kind of actor who doesn’t just go on stage. She consumes it.
Hartman was one of many “really fantastic” candidates for the job, said Andrew Hungerford, artistic director and producer of the Know Theatre, which is Cincy Fringe’s parent organization. “But Katie had a particular combination of skills and knowledge that set her apart.”
She had experienced the Fringe from a performer’s perspective, which is invaluable. Among Fringe performers, the Cincinnati Fringe Festival has a reputation for being a particularly generous and accommodating host.
She also has extensive production experience, both with the Coldharts and as a producer of the Twin Cities Horror Festival, an annual two-week Fringe-like festival in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Equally important, Hartman is highly regarded among the community of Fringe artists and producers. Their support is essential if you have any hope of organizing a successful festival.
Erika Kate MacDonald, who lives in Covington, is a veteran of the Fringe circuit. She has made numerous solo exhibitions. And she also made several appearances working with her partner, Paul Strickland. But like everyone on the Fringe circuit, she has struggled over the past two years as festivals have been canceled or moved online or found some other modified form in a bid to offer something to their patrons. .
But with this year’s fringe festivals returning to some sense of normalcy, MacDonald hoped to finally be able to perform his one-man show, “The Barn Identity.” (He will be part of the 2022 Fringe.)
“I would be lying if I told you my heart didn’t leap when I found out Katie Hartman had been hired to run this thing,” MacDonald wrote in a recent email. “I’m not sure what her priorities will be with this year’s festival, but what I do know is that she herself is a very caring, risk-taking, risk-taking artist herself. is ready to take on challenges. What more could you ask for when, as an artist, I challenge myself, take big artistic risks and always want to take good care of my audience at Cincy Fringe? »
Like MacDonald, Hartman spent many years touring North America, performing at festivals from Orlando to Winnipeg. There’s a measure of excitement to it all. And artistically, it can be incredibly satisfying. But contrary to what outsiders might imagine, there’s often not a whole lot of glamor involved.
On their first visit to Cincinnati in 2014, Hartman and Ryan rode what she calls the “Chinatown Dollar Bus.” These rides build character, right? »
And when they got here, they played in the basement of the MOTR Pub on Main Street. It’s a narrow, cramped and claustrophobic space, with low ceilings.
“But the audience was overwhelmingly supportive,” Hartman recalled. “And the whole atmosphere around the Fringe was so positive. It was so awesome. I’ve loved Cincinnati since the first time we came to the Fringe.
“By the time the job posting was posted, I was ready,” Hartman said. “This is the fastest cover letter I’ve ever written in my life. It was like kismet.