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.
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 heroine doing her soul work in the underworld of Mother Holly. The important and necessary work of imagining and creating." ~Samantha Van Der Merwe
Shaking the Tree Staff
Samantha Van Der Merwe- Founding Artistic Director "She creates lush, often dark and fantastical, environments that bring home the hard issues we need to face but are often unwilling to do on a daily basis. It’s a vision that needs to be supported because in her hands, some plays can be transformative." Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Samantha Van Der Merwe has now lived in the United States for 26 years, and is the founding Artistic Director of Shaking the Tree Theatre in Portland, OR. Founded in 2003, Shaking the Tree Theatre has become known for melding the boundaries of theatre and visual art by presenting thrilling and unconventional theatrical experiences.
Directing projects: Chick Fight (Devised/words by Sara Jean Accuardi), Family (Celine Song), REFUGE (Art Installation/Devised), BAKKHAI (Euripides/Anne Carson), Escaped Alone (Caryl Churchill), _____ the wolf (devised), SALT (devised), Macbeth (William Shakespeare), The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Bertolt Brecht), Come to the Table, Mike Pence (Devised), Miss Julie (August Strindberg, adapted by Craig Lucas), We're All Mad Here (Devised), Venus and Adonis (William Shakespeare), Head. Hands. Feet. (Devised & Edna O’Brien), Orpheus and Eurydice (Devised), A Doll's House (Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Frank McGuinness), Passion Play (Sarah Ruhl), Suddenly Last Summer (Tennessee Williams), Masque of the Red Death (Featuring Playwrights West), One Flea Spare (Naomi Wallace), Wilde Tales (Oscar wilde, adapted by Karin Magaldi), Far Away (Caryl Churchill), The Tripping Point (Featuring Playwrights West), Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act (Athol Fugard). Talk & Lectures Creative Mornings: https://creativemornings.com/talks/samantha-van-der-merwe
Awards and Affiliations Associate Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Member of Theatre Communications Group, Drammy Award for Outstanding Devised Work: Head. Hands. Feet, Devised, Drammy Award for Outstanding Set Design; We're All Mad Here, Devised, Drammy Award for Special Achievement as a Producer: Passion Play, Sarah Ruhl, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation SEED Grantee, Drammy Award for Special Achievement as a Producer- The Tripping Point, Drammy Award for Outstanding Direction- Statements After an Arrest..., Athol Fugard
Rebby Yuer Foster (they/she/he)-Associate Artistic Director Recent pieces with Shaking the Tree include, Family (Alice), 家人: A Self Portrait (director/editor), Refuge: Our Lady of Lunar Reflection (director/editor), The Edge (director/editor), 抜け首 (director/editor). Recent acting credits include Once (Seacoast Repertory Theatre), We’ve Come to Believe (Humana Festival ‘19), Dracula (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville), & Xiaoyen (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville). Rebby is a former Acting Apprentice at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville ‘18-19. They grew up in Seattle, Washington and received their B.A. in Theatre & English at the University of Portland. @rebbyyuer
Pancho Savery- Artistic Associate & Resident Dramaturg Pancho Savery is Professor of English, Humanities, American Studies, and Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies at Reed College, where he teaches courses on modern and contemporary drama, African-American literature, American literature and culture, and American Indian fiction. He has published essays on Ralph Ellison, Saunders Redding, James Baldwin, Adrienne Rich, Robert Creeley, Ezra Pound, Samuel Beckett, Paula Vogel, Tennessee Williams, Sarah Ruhl, Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, Mike Lew, Lucas Hnath, Euripides, and others. He serves on the Board of Directors of Artists Repertory Theatre (chair), Boom Arts (chair), Clackamas Repertory Theatre, Corrib Theatre (chair), Original Practice Shakespeare (co-chair), P.E.T.E. (chair), PHAME (immediate past chair), Portland Playhouse, The Red Door Project, Shaking the Tree Theatre, Third Rail Repertory Theatre, and Our Children Oregon. He has worked as dramaturg at Artists Repertory Theatre, Clackamas Repertory Theatre, Corrib Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Profile Theatre, Shaking the Tree Theatre, and Third Rail Repertory Theatre. Additionally, he is Literary Dramaturg at Artists Repertory Theatre, Literary Manager at Corrib, and Third Rail, and Artistic Associate at Shaking the Tree. He is a member of the Mercury and DNA:Oxygen theatre companies, is a member of The Modern Language Association, LMDA, TCG, and the Jazz Journalists Association. He is also past Vice President and President of PDX Jazz.
Kai Hynes- Box Office Manager Kai is a performing artist originally from San Jose, California, with a B.A. in English and Theatre from the University of Portland. He is so grateful to be working with Shaking the Tree in a new capacity as its Box Office and Front of House Manager. His love for this company and its mission runs deep. :-)
Shaking The Tree Board of Directors
Samantha Van Der Merwe (President) Scott Wiggers (Treasurer) Jessie Jonas (Secretary) Dorothy Davis Kerry Erdenberger Rebecca Harrison Belinda Green Pancho Savery
General Press Quotes & Articles of Interest
(Specific show reviews and interviews can be found on our archive pages) The Cultural Landscape: Part 3 K.B. Dixon continues his series with five fresh photographic portraits of people who help define the shape of Portland's culture.
"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
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Connect with Us
Box Office: 503.235.0635
Shaking the Tree Theatre is located at 823 SE Grant St. Portland, OR 97214
Look for the Big Blue Warehouse!
Shaking the Tree is in a warehouse space on the NW corner of SE 9th Ave and SE Grant St. The entrance is located just off the courtyard.
Major Funding provided by
Ronni Lacroute, Jessie Jonas, Ellyn Bye, Ed Hamilton, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, the Oregon Community Foundation, the Regional Arts & Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County, the Arts Education & Access Fund, the Collins Foundation, the Oregon Cultural Trust, the Oregon Arts Commission, the Rose and David Dortort Foundation, supporting organization of the California Community Foundation, and the Multnomah County Cultural Coalition.