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Exhibitions and Events

Shakespeare in the Arb: Nature, theater a perfect match

By Joe Mooney

Miranda and Ferdinand (Sarah Prendergast and Nick Megahan). Photo by Emilie Heimbold.

The 17th season of Shakespeare in the Arb begins June 8 with weekly performances of “The Tempest,” directed by Kate Mendeloff of the University of Michigan Residential College and performed by students and local actors.

The al fresco production draws thousands of Shakespeare fans each June to the U-M’s Nichols Arboretum to experience an outdoor performance where audience and cast travel through the Arb and the landscape provides a natural backdrop to the production.

Mendeloff first presented “The Tempest” in 2007. For its 10th anniversary, Mendeloff says she chose the East Valley, “and decided to use the Heathdale glen for the audience entrance, and to people the woods with the characters who were thrown upon Prospero’s island by the shipwreck.”

Mendeloff chooses locations in the Arb strategically to enhance the plays. This year, weather toppled a large tree where the play’s action takes place.

“We use the tree for some significant staging moments during the action,” Mendeloff said. “In the play, Prospero had released his servant Ariel from imprisonment in a tree, so that this symbol of repression and freedom is front and center in the audience’s minds.”

Shakespeare in the Arb takes place in the Nichols Arboretum, 1610 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor. Tickets go on sale at 5:30 p.m. the day of each performance. For more information, visit the Matthaei Botanical Garden website or call 734-647-7600.

Performance Dates
There are four performances per week, Thursdays through Sunday, starting at 6:30 p.m:

  • June 8–11
  • June 15–18
  • June 22–25

Shakespeare in the Arb is sponsored by the U-M Matthew Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum, U-M Residential College, and Domino’s.

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