Art & Life

‘The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus’

Kirkwood Community College’s spring production is a show targeted toward children called ‘The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus.’ The play will be performed on Thursday, March 28, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 30, at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. 

“We picked this play because we knew we wanted to do a theater for Young Audiences Show, which is a play for children, but performed by adults,” said Director Katie Colletta, who is also the education supervisor at Coralville Center for the Performing Arts. 

She continued, “Eric Coble is the playwright and he just captured this adventure story that is nonstop. The action just continues and the kids are truly the heroes of the story. Sometimes we find plays that kind of talk down to kids or condescend a little bit, and this is just the opposite of that. The kids are totally centered in the story and they’re empowered through it. My hope is that the kids who see the show will feel empowered that same way.” 

According to a description about the play on the Kirkwood Arts website, “School is out for the summer, and 8-year-old Sheila is in for the adventure of a lifetime! Join Sheila and her friends on a daredevilish, whirlwind of a quest through the desert and a glorious pile of junk to defeat the Sting Brigade, the Council of Howls, the Death Cactus, and more. ‘The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus’ by Eric Coble is a 45-minute mystical and magical twist on traditional storytelling best for ages five and up.” 

Colletta said the show will be educational and interactive. “Because this is an educational experience for the kids who come to see the show and we want it to be immersive, before the performance, kids are welcome to gather a half hour early to make animal masks that they will use in the show,” said Colletta.

“Then after the show, the cast will be around to sign autographs, take pictures and meet the kids. Families are welcome to take home a post-show packet with coloring pages and questions for the car ride home and additional activities to bolster the experience,” she said. 

Not everything has been easy though, according to Colletta, including the translation of the production from its original roots as a one-performer show into a full-cast performance. 

Colletta said, “It’s been an interesting challenge to make sure we follow the original intention but to also bring it to life in this fashion.” 

One major aspect of the play that makes it unique is how the audience will be situated. Rather than being seated in the seats in Ballantyne Auditorium, they will instead be on stage to witness the play, according to Colletta. 

She also made a strong emphasis on thanking the Theater department and Humanities department for supporting the play and helping make the production work. 

The spring production is free for Kirkwood students, faculty and staff who have an EagleCard, but reserving tickets in advance is required. The play is free for all people under 18 and $5 for adults. To reserve or purchase tickets, visit

More information about the playwright can be found at