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Shakespeare and peonies

The University of Michigan's "Shakespeare in the Arb" performances take place at Nichols Arboretum every June. Photo from a past performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Scott Soderberg, Michigan Photography.

ANN ARBOR—The 19th season of Shakespeare in the Arb presents weekly performances of “Twelfth Night”—a story of love and identity, mistaken and otherwise, that brims with some of the Bard’s most well-loved speeches and songs.

Performances start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, June 6-9, 13-16 and 20-23.

Directed by Kate Mendeloff of the University of Michigan Residential College, Carol Gray, and Graham Atkin, and performed by U-M students and local actors, the al fresco production draws thousands of Shakespeare fans each June to the U-M’s Nichols Arboretum. This summer tradition is a moveable feast of theater that travels through the Arb—literally. As the scenes change, performers and audience move to various locations in Nichols Arboretum, using the natural landscape as a backdrop to the production.

The Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden. Photo by Michele Yanga.

The Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden. Photo by Michele Yanga.

The natural setting creates the special experience of Shakespeare in the Arb. There is no fixed stage; instead, Mendeloff leads audience and actors through different Arboretum locations, taking advantage of its vistas, valleys and other natural features.

Shakespeare in the Arb kicks-off as peak boom begins at the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden. The garden’s spring display boasts 350 historic herbaceous varieties (cultivars) from the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, and are arranged in 27 beds. When filled to capacity, there are more than 10,000 flowers on view.

Tickets go on sale at 5:30 p.m. the day of each performance at the Visitor’s Center, located at 1610 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor.

For more information, visit the Matthaei Botanical Gardens website or call 734-647-7600.

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