PRE-FRINGE PROFILE: The Legend of White Woman Creek

CAVEAT: I have not worked closely with either Nick Ryan or Katie Hartman, but we’ve been working in the same places and in similar styles long enough to have more than a passing familiarity with each other.

SHOW TITLE: The Legend of White Woman Creek
PRODUCER: The Coldharts
SHOW DESCRIPTION: The American frontier, 1867-A young woman flees her war-torn home to start a new life in an unfamiliar land. A thirteen-song cycle of love, betrayal and redemption sung by the ghost of Anna Morgan Faber.
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: The talent of the people involved would have been more than sufficient to capture my interest — as for content, the response below to “Why should I care?” pretty fantastically sums it up for me, I think.

Just who do you think you are, anyway?

The Coldharts are Katie Hartman and Nick Ryan, we are two theater artists who met in Minneapolis about nine years ago and relocated to New York three years ago. The Legend of White Woman Creek is our first collaboration as a duo, though we’ve worked on other shows together with Four Humors Theater and 3 Sticks Theater.  The name “The Coldharts” is from the first MN Fringe Show we performed in together back in 2004 entitled “Religious Pretense”: it was an improvised show set in the high courtroom of Heaven and we played a husband and wife prosecuting team named Cyrus and Amanda Coldheart. We liked how the name rolled off the tongue, so dropped the ‘e’ and ran with it! A funny side note: the only other two to play those roles were local actors Matt Spring and Natalie Remus, who got married two years ago… so if you’re looking to get hitched forever remount ‘Religious Pretense’ and play the prosecutors!

So what’s the big idea?

The Legend of White Woman Creek is a thirteen-song cycle based on a ghost story from Western Kansas. At the top of the show an invocation ritual is performed, the ghost is summoned, given a guitar, and she tells her tragic tale through folk songs. The show explores the history of the American Frontier, American folk songs, and the figure of the folk singer as a storyteller. Minnesota is our second stop in a three fringe tour; we started in Kansas City, and after the Twin Cities, we head to Edmonton.

How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?

The piece is based on a ghost story, about a real ghost who haunts a creek in Kansas known today as White Woman Creek. Katie was told the story by her Grandmother as a child, and it stuck with her. When we were discussing potential subjects for a one woman show, the image of a ghost singing her mournful dirge along a cracked stream bed resonated with us… it seemed like a piece ideal for the solo-show form. As we researched the time period, we came across the rich history of folk music popular in the late 19th century and decided to present the ghost as sort of an undead Woody Guthrie, a folk singer summoned across time and place to sing her story.

Why should I care?

It is the perfect show for fans of ghost stories, music and the American West.

Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.

Kansas Ghost Story,
Sung by zombie Joan Baez,
Lit by candlelight.


2 Responses to “PRE-FRINGE PROFILE: The Legend of White Woman Creek”

  1. rynoceras Says:

    In your caveat you misname Katie Hartman as Katie Melby.

  2. philliplow Says:

    Urk! Embarrassing error, correcting now. Too many awesome Katies!

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