Creator of University of Michigan’s Shakespeare in the Arb passes away

Creator and Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Arb, Kate Mendeloff, directs audience members during a performance at U-M's Nichols Arboretum. (Credit: University of Michigan)

ANN ARBOR – Kate Mendeloff, the creator and artistic director of University of Michigan’s famed Shakespeare in the Arb, has died.

Mendeloff, 69, passed away at home on Saturday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

She taught drama at U-M’s Residential College since 1990, exposing hundreds of students to the production process, major American plays and exploring topics like Greek comedy and tragedy, contemporary works on gender and race and the plays of Chekhov, Ibsen and Strindberg.

She also led cross-disciplinary efforts at U-M, one of which placed students in community internships.

But perhaps most famously, she was known for creating Shakespeare in the Arb in 2001. She would lead audiences through U-M’s Nichols Arboretum with her signature handheld flag as they made their way through acts set in different areas of the picturesque Arb.

Mendeloff held degrees from Princeton University and the Yale School of Drama.

She is survived by her husband, Jeff Curtis, and two daughters.