The Ann Arbor Independent Editorial Team
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.
Shakespeare in the Arb came into existence in the summer of 2001, when Residential College Drama faculty member Kate Mendeloff was asked to direct an outdoor production as part of a three year Ford Motor Company grant for Arts in the Nichols Arboretum. She chose Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for its structure — the characters were transformed by the power of the natural world. The production was such a popular success that Mendeloff remounted it the following summer, and “Shakespeare in the Arb” became an Ann Arbor tradition.
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. Here are some helpful tips:
- The Box Office is located in the lower level of the Arboretum Visitor Center at the 1610 Washington Hts. entrance
- Shakespeare in the Arb performers and audience members move through sections of the Arb as the play progresses. Each performance lasts about 2.5 hours.
- Due to the mobile nature of the performances and the outdoor settings, a limited number of tickets are available for each show.
- Audience members sit on the ground. We recommend blankets or chairs. Those sitting in chairs will be asked to sit toward the back so as not to obstruct the view.
- Performances may be cancelled due to inclement weather. Show cancellations occur prior to the box office opening. If bad weather threatens, call ahead (734-647-7600) or visit Twitter @MatthaeiNichols for last-minute details.
- Water is available for purchase at the box office. Insect spray is available for free at the box office.
For Shakespeare in the Arb’s 10th anniversary, Kate 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.”
DATES: 6:30 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, June 15-18, 22-25, 2017
PLACE: Nichols Arboretum, 1610 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor
INFORMATION/REGISTRATION: Tickets go on sale at 5:30 p.m. the day of each performance. For more information, call 734-647-7600.