“Sweet are the uses of adversity and this our life free from public haunt finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones and good in everything. I would not change it.”

Duke Senior, As You Like It, Act II. Scene I

On one perfect day in late summer, a small troop of actors, a director, and videographer traveled through the Arboretum’s landscape—south to north, Peters Hill to the Maple Collection—to film selections from the works of William Shakespeare in seven different locations. The results of their work, incorporating scenes and sonnets with a focus on the natural world, marks the third collaboration between Actors’ Shakespeare Project and the Arnold Arboretum. The Nature of Shakespeare will be presented in two parts, each live-streamed via virtual platforms, with experts from the Arboretum illuminating each specific natural area featured.

The Nature of Shakespeare emerges as a virtual event that underscores the timeless connections between humans and their environment. Overviews of the collections and stories of where the scenes are located meld with the sensibility of language and nature in Shakespeare’s work.

Actors' Shakespeare Project films in the beech collection
Actors’ Shakespeare Project crew and cast film a scene in the beech collection for the Nature of Shakespeare. Sheryl White

“Shakespeare uses nature often as the setting of the main action of his dramas,” explains ASP Artistic Director Chris Edwards of the collaboration with the Arboretum. “More often he uses nature as a metaphor for the lives people live in society as they deal with love, betrayal, passion, sickness, and political intrigue.” With themes that resonate deeply with our times, the collaboration offers another unique way to showcase the landscapes of the Arnold Arboretum and celebrate its many roles in the life of our community.

Presented in two different programs, The Nature of Shakespeare offers online audiences a unique and intimate opportunity to enjoy the richness of Shakespeare’s poetry and world view juxtaposed and in harmony with the eloquent beauty of the Arnold Arboretum. View both soon on our Watch With Us page and YouTube channel.

Our event was presented live via Zoom Webinar, with concurrent streaming on Facebook and YouTube, on October 3 (Part I) and October 17 (Part II).

Read more about the “Nature of Shakespeare” from WBUR The ARTery.

Also see the interview in The Boston Globe

From “free” to “friend”…

Established in 1911 as the Bulletin of Popular Information, Arnoldia has long been a definitive forum for conversations about temperate woody plants and their landscapes. In 2022, we rolled out a new vision for the magazine as a vigorous forum for tales of plant exploration, behind-the-scenes glimpses of botanical research, and deep dives into the history of gardens, landscapes, and science. The new Arnoldia includes poetry, visual art, and literary essays, following the human imagination wherever it entangles with trees.

It takes resources to gather and nurture these new voices, and we depend on the support of our member-subscribers to make it possible. But membership means more: by becoming a member of the Arnold Arboretum, you help to keep our collection vibrant and our research and educational mission active. Through the pages of Arnoldia, you can take part in the life of this free-to-all landscape whether you live next door or an ocean away.

For more tree-entangled art, science, and writing, subscribe to Arnoldia by becoming a member of the Arnold Arboretum.