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Shake­speare in the Arb will be held at 2 p.m. this Sat­urday and Sunday. | Facebook

Shake­speare in the Arb promises to be dif­ferent this year with one of Shakespeare’s weirdest and darkest plays, according to junior and director Andrew Kennedy.

The annual per­for­mance will be held at 2 p.m. this Sat­urday and Sunday. The play is being held in the Mauck Solarium instead of the Slayton Arboretum, due to weather con­cerns. Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” is the story of a woman about to become a nun, who plots to trap the tem­porary leader of Vienna in a mar­riage with a dif­ferent woman to avoid pros­ti­tuting herself to him, and to save her brother.

“It’s probably one of the few chances people will have to see it, because it’s very dark and weird,” Kennedy said. “It’s not at all what people expect from Shake­speare if you’ve read Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet.”

Kennedy said he had read “Measure for Measure” years ago and hated it, but for some reason, it stuck with him all last year. Once he took on “the mantle of directing,” he decided he would do the play and figure out why it made such an impression on him.

“I’m glad I did because I’ve dis­covered a lot about it that I would not have taken the time to oth­erwise,” Kennedy said. “It has a lot of depth espe­cially – there’s a wealth of scrip­tural allu­sions and explo­ration of the nature of reli­gious and political authority: what each can do, what they can’t do. It’s a good play.”

Sophomore Kirby Thigpen is playing Mariana, a woman betrothed to Vienna’s  tem­porary leader Lord Angelo. She said despite rushed rehearsals and sched­uling con­flicts, the pro­duction is going well.

“I hope that everyone who sees it walks away both having enjoyed it and having inter­acted with some unique themes and ideas,” Thigpen said in an email.

Kennedy said the actors bring the play to life.

“Bringing that process to the stage brings them to life in a way that reading never can,” Kennedy said, “and you see the humanity of the char­acters, in both their weirdness and their darkness but in their brightness too. That’s the thing that the actors bring to the table that you don’t really get reading it for a class.”

He said nothing done for Shake­speare in the Arb is as complex or obscure as the coming per­for­mance, and he said he hopes viewers will be “con­fused and a little uncom­fortable.”

“There’s some­thing about this play in its grit­tiness and weirdness that I think touches on some­thing that everybody expe­ri­ences but doesn’t like to think about too much,” he said. “This sort of insa­tiable desire for power and control or passion, lust, things like that, tend to simmer below the surface. But in this play, they are on full display, and I think that’s an important thing to expe­rience in art.”