Ann Arbor’s Shakespeare in the Arb canceled for second year due to COVID concerns

ANN ARBOR – Shakespeare in the Arb, a beloved tradition that blends theater and nature University of Michigan’s Nichols Arboretum, has been canceled for the second year due to the ongoing pandemic.

It was first canceled in 2020, just as it prepared to mark its 20th anniversary.

“This was a very difficult decision,” wrote Matthaei-Nichols director Tony Kolenic in a newsletter on Friday. “Those special anniversary-celebration performances will have to wait until 2022. We just couldn’t risk having 200-plus audience members so close together at each performance for up to three hours at a time.”

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Shakespeare in the Arb actors do not use a stage. Instead, they perform for audiences in various natural settings across the picturesque 120-acre arboretum. Think: theater-meets-walking-tour.

Each year, more than half the cast is made up of U-M students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the local community.

Kolenic added that most of the botanical gardens and arboretum’s spring-summer 2021 programming had been canceled over health concerns, including school tours, Things with Wings and various partner group meetings, including Audubon Society and Sierra Club. Its volunteer program has also been suspended until the fall.

“‘We are sorry’ doesn’t quite cover it,” wrote Kolenic. “Everyone at Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum wants nothing more than to open again to all of you. Please know that we are doing everything we can to make that happen.”

Trails at Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum remain open to the public.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.