RIP Old Portland: A Funeral for the City That Was

Portland has experienced a lot of changes in the 25 years since Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho. Now Hand2Mouth are offering you a chance for you to pay your respects for what’s been lost.

By Fiona McCann August 13, 2015

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Anne Source, Erika Latta and Julie Hammond in Time, A Fair Hustler. Photo by Anna Campbell. 

Perhaps you’re mourning the loss of bars such as The Matador or Tiga, or belly-filling haunts like like Cory Schreiber’s farm-centric Wildwood and Northwest’s beloved Besaw’s. Or maybe what you miss most is the golden age of Trimet’s Fareless Square. Whatever it is you’ve lost in a rapidly-changing Portland, there’s a place for you to pay your respects this Sunday (August 16). Hand2Mouth theater company is conducting “A Funeral for Old Portland” at Artists Rep, a participatory event to which everyone is invited.

The funeral is part of a series of free public events taking place alongside Hand2Mouth’s performance of the inventive, expertly staged Time, A Fair Hustler—an examination of how Portland has changed in recent decades through the lens of Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho.

The ceremony will bring together ten eulogists to pay tributes to various departed aspects of this city’s life. They’ll be mourning and celebrating what the city has lost—and gained—in the 25 years since Van Sant’s acclaimed movie was filmed.

Those gathering to eulogize the late Portland include author Rene Denfield, former mayoral candidate Phil Busse, filmmaker Alicia Rose, actor Vana O’Brien who also starred in the film, and Street Roots Executive Director Israel Bayer.

Musician Rick Meyers, who played the saw on the original score for the Van Sant film, will be on hand for musical accompaniment as the mourners file in, while actor Pat Janowski will emcee.

Mourners are invited to bring flowers—specifically “flowers you found, flowers you stole, flowers you grew”—to lay on stage as they witness a slideshow from the Portland city archives.

“We’ve always thought about this as a challenge to avoid being purely nostalgic,” says Jen Mitas, Executive Director of Hand2Mouth. “There’s a negative aspect to that period of time that gets excluded in retrospect, so it will start as a mourning, and then we’ll invite the audience to say what they want to let go of from Old Portland and articulate what we want to bring into the future.”

 A Funeral For Old Portland takes place at 4 pm on Sunday, August 16 after the final performance of Hand2Mouth’s Time, A Fair Hustler at Artists Rep.

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