After six years of writing, acting and directing for Actors' Theatre of Columbus, Philip J. Hickman is now artistic director of the German Village-based troupe.

After six years of writing, acting and directing for Actors' Theatre of Columbus, Philip J. Hickman is now artistic director of the German Village-based troupe.

Hickman replaces the late John S. Kuhn, the former artistic director who died in February.

"I am obviously very excited about the wonderful opportunity to move forward a company that has a lot of connection in the community and a lot to say as an arts organization and a cultural institution," Hickman said.

Kuhn was with the troupe for more than 30 years and artistic director for 12 years.

Hickman, 38, said Kuhn's death left a huge void with the group.

"I learned a lot from John, but think there are some new directions the company can go in," Hickman said, "and we're excited about that."

Carol Mullinax, president of the theater group's board of directors, said Hickman was chosen from a field of seven applicants.

Mullinax said the board was facing uncertainty about the future of Actors' Theatre, a struggle between tradition and new ideas.

Hickman, who was named assistant artistic director in 2013 and interim artistic director after Kuhn's death, had a grip on both, Mullinax said.

For example, Kuhn wanted to branch out into education.

Hickman put that into motion by helping launch acting classes at the YMCA this summer and creating the role of education director, currently filled by Andy Falter.

"It was a tough decision, just because you're torn between someone who knows the tradition and how the organization operates and bringing someone in with new ideas and a totally new way of doing things," she said. "We made the right decision."

Actors' Theatre is known for Shakespeare and other classic works, some adapted to modern times.

It performs three plays at Schiller each summer and one or more performances at other venues throughout the year.

"We're also hoping to present more historically important women and minority authors, try to demonstrate the diversity in our company and onstage that we have in our community," Hickman said.

Actors' Theatre was hit hard by rain this spring.

Plays are free and open to the public but audience contributions account for about a third of the budget. This year, Actors' Theatre made a plea to the community to make up the $14,000 deficit.

The company made up a substantial portion of the loss, but is resolved to solve its financial uncertainty, Hickman said.

"What's been really fantastic is how the community has come together and supported us in our hour of need," he said.

"We're looking into a lot of financial models that will give the company some stability apart from the weather."