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

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

It was canceled for the first time in 2020 as it was preparing for its 20th anniversary.

“It was a very difficult decision,” Tony Kolenic, director of Matthaei-Nichols, wrote in a newsletter on Friday. “These special performances for the anniversary celebration have to wait until 2022. We just couldn’t risk having more than 200 spectators so close to each other for up to three hours at a time for each performance.”

Read: The University of Michigan’s famous Peony Garden at Ann Arbor will reopen this spring


Shakespeare in the Arb actors don’t use the stage. Instead, they perform for the audience in various natural settings in the scenic 120-acre arboretum. Think: theater meets tour.

Each year, more than half of the cast is made up of UM students, faculties and staff, and members of the local community.

Kolenic added that most of the Botanical Garden and Arboretum programs had been canceled in Spring / Summer 2021 due to health concerns, including school tours, things with wings, and various meetings of partner groups, including the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. The volunteer program was also suspended until autumn.


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