Select Page

    A story about finding your place in the world, inspired by the works of Willa Cather.

Created and performed by Carrie Brown, Katie Hartman, and Karim Muasher
Directed by Melinda Jean Ferraraccio and Lindsey Hope Pearlman

Henrietta Solway is a 90 minute, family friendly (ages 10+), original play for audiences of all ages, commissioned by the National Willa Cather Center and inspired by Cather’s short fiction and serialized novels. It brings to life an exciting, sweet, and epic tale of ambition, sacrifice, and reconciliation in small towns, big cities, and vast landscapes.

The year is 1900, and Henrietta is a young tomboy growing up in the tiny town of Empire City, Nebraska. A chance encounter with Hildegarde Schumann, a glamorous opera singer with tales of art and culture in the big city, gives her restless passion a purpose and the direction of her life is forever changed. When Henrietta grows up, she leaves home to become a world famous artist, experiencing daring successes, bitter regrets, and heartfelt reunions as she searches for her place in the world.

Performed in Animal Engine’s signature physical style, just three actors portray over 60 different characters and play live music from the turn of the century. They create the sights and sounds of small town Nebraska, Coney Island, the Mesa, and more with just their bodies, a single set piece, and songs.

“With the whoosh of invisible wheels, Animal Engine uses their imaginative physicality to create new narratives of life across the prairie. The economy of set design, song, and movement reflects the spartan quality of the Great Plains while expressing the same rich themes and emotional depth Cather unearthed in her work.”

—Rachel Olsen, Education Coordinator
The National Willa Cather Center

“Animal Engine’s performance style is transformative. By foregrounding movement and story, Cather’s characters are timelessly portrayed on the stage in a way that feels fresh and evocative. Henrietta Solway offers enough Cather to keep even a dedicated reader hooked but remains engaging for the uninitiated.”

—Tracy Tucker, Education Director
The National Willa Cather Center

Henrietta Solway is a touching story that is thoughtfully written and creatively produced. Those familiar with the novels and short stories of Willa Cather will recognize many elements that make up this entirely new story. Particularly memorable is Henrietta’s yearning for success juxtaposed with a pull toward home.”

—Ashley Olson, Executive Director
The National Willa Cather Center