Shaking the Tree melds the boundaries of theatre and visual art by presenting audiences with unconventional theatrical experiences in our non-traditional warehouse space. Founded in 2003, Shaking the Tree uses innovative ways to inhabit space, and positions itself at the intersection of innovation, activism and groundbreaking theatricality to allow audiences to experience a deeper, more active connection to the work.
Shaking the Tree is committed to the work of dismantling racism and anti-blackness
Here is a living document of our growing and evolving list of commitments, many of which are inspired by We See You White American Theater's list of demands (weseeyouwat.com). Keep an eye on our progress, and let us know what you think about the work we're doing HERE.
Shaking the Tree's Anti-Racist Ethos
Shaking the Tree (StT) acknowledges the harm that has been done to members of the BIPOC community, and women (especially BIPOC women) through the oppressive practices of racism, white supremacy, and patriarchy, and we are committed to consciously countering this harm through ever evolving anti-racist practices that include harm reduction, harm prevention, and relationship repair.
Thanks to Nicole Brewer for inspiring us to come up with an anti-racist ethos.
How did the name Shaking the Tree originate?
Shaking the Tree's name comes from a mishmash of mythology and fairytale: The Bodhi Tree, The flowering Apple Tree, the Silver Pear Tree, but mostly the Golden Apple Tree from the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale, Mother Holly. In this tale the young heroin comes up to a tree laden with apples. The Tree says "Shake me. Shake me. We apples are all ripe." So she shakes the tree until the apples fall as though it were raining golden apples. When there are none left in the tree, she gathers them into a pile, and then continues on her way.
"I love this idea of the young heroin doing her soul work in the underworld of Mother Holly. The important and necessary work of imagining and creating." ~Samantha Van Der Merwe
Samantha Van Der Merwe (President) Scott Wiggers (Treasurer) Jessie Jonas (Secretary) Dorothy Davis Gokul Suryadevara Kerry Erdenberger Rebecca Harrison Belinda Green Pancho Savery
(Specific show reviews and interviews can be found on our archive pages)
"What makes Shaking the Tree one of the gutsiest production companies in the city is Van Der Merwe's ability to look straight at enshrined notions about what theater can or should be and tell them to go to hell." -Bennett Campbell Ferguson, Willamette Week
"Among Portland's best theatre companies, putting on a wonderful mix of classic and contemporary with an emphasis on the visual." ~DeAnn Welker, the Oregonian
We acknowledge that the land on which we sit, and which we occupy at Shaking the Tree Theatre rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde including Molalla and Kalapuya, and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River creating communities and summer encampments to harvest and use the plentiful natural resources of the area. We acknowledge that American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians exchanged millions of acres of land through treaties for basic needs and rights despite the fact that every treaty was broken by the US government, and we acknowledge that they continue to pay for allowing others, including other displaced and removed Indigenous peoples, to be on their homelands. We take this opportunity to thank the original caretakers of this land.
Finally, we acknowledge that in 1859, Oregon was set up as a white utopia, and explicitly forbade black people from living in its borders, the only state to do so. We are dismantling Oregon's overtly racist policies by welcoming all races to gather freely at Shaking the Tree.