Willa Cather (1873-1947) was born on a small farm in Virginia.  At the age of 10, her family moved to “The Divide”: a vast expanse of high prairie land in Nebraska.  The settings, characters, and events of her Prairie Trilogy novels (My Antonia, O Pioneers!, and Song of the Lark) are based on her childhood experiences there and in the nearby pioneer town of Red Cloud.  Themes explored in her work include the importance of the land, the struggle between duty to one’s family and to oneself, the pioneering desire to move and start somewhere new, and the immigrant experience.  All of this rich source material provides the basis for Petunia and Chicken.


The year is 1880.  Petunia Shimerda, an indomitable immigrant girl from Bohemia (modern day Czechoslovakia) determined to tame the wild land around her, arrives in Nebraska (Garden of the West!) with her family.

There she meets Chicken Burden, a right smart  local boy living with his grandparents and trusty dog, who has dreams of great adventures. As the joys of their youth give way to the harsh realities of adulthood, they struggle to stay together.

Spanning the years 1880 to 1900; their love story unfolds against the backdrop of an unforgiving landscape as it transforms into America’s Breadbasket.


With nothing but a hat and a scarf, just two daring performers create this epic story of love and loss that’s as big as the prairie itself. Sprawling fields of wheat, bustling train stations, rain-soaked kisses, wind-blown hair, and the rest of Petunia and Chicken’s world are brought to life with imagination, movement, and song.

Audiences have described the style as “fun, clever, and charming” & “simple, and touching.”  Watch the videos below to see a glimpse of this unique storytelling experience.

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