PF14 Artist Snapshot: Tess Van Horn presents “May Day”

NOTE: PortFringe will be profiling PF14 Artists and their shows on this blog in the weeks leading up to the festival (June 24-29, 2014). The next snapshot is of Portland theater artist, Tess Van Horn and her original work being read for the first time at this year’s festival.

Artist: Tess Van Horn
Show: May Day
Description: New York City: May 1st, 1919. Adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, this 40 minute, theatrical staged reading explores the life of seven individuals over the course of one night.

Tell us something we don’t know about you/your company, and your PortFringe show.

I am a freelance director and actor based in Portland, and a member of Lorem Ipsum (  May Day is my first semi-full length play that I’ve written.  It’s based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which was part of Tales of the Jazz Age, his first collection of short stories, although it had been first published in The Smart Set in July of 1920.  

May Dayis a loose adaptation, and although the core of it comes from his short story, I also pulled excerpts from The Crack-Up, an essay of his that he wrote for Esquire in 1936.  By this time, Fitz was in his later stages of alcoholism, and it’s quite remarkable to see the difference in tone between his “sound of tooth and pink of cheek” manhood of 1920 and him declaring “that every act of life from the morning toothbrush to the friend at dinner had become an effort." 

Will it translate well into a play? I’m not yet sure.  The flowery language of Fitzgerald that I have loved since high school is not always the most accessible, and to me that is the most important: That theater fully embrace the audience and vice versa.  With this being a reading, I am eager to see how this co-dependent relationship fully plays out.  I won’t hold a talk back, instead will pass out note cards so that the audience can express their reactions fully uncensored and anonymously (if they so desire).

What are you looking forward to the most about PortFringe 2014?

My answer to this is long winded, and I apologize in advance!

Since moving to Portland in 2006, it has been truly exciting to see the theater community expand in so many interesting ways.  We founded Lorem Ipsum in 2010, and with it, our first production, Ubu Roi, which I directed. In our version all of our props were made out of cardboard, and there was a flashlight taped onto Ian Carlsen’s crotch to represent Ubu’s penis (which would turn off and on with the swiftness of Ian’s hips)  It only performed twice – once in then arts/music venue The Apohadion, which housed mainly punk/metal shows and movies like Trash Humpers, and another time at SPACE Gallery.  Both shows sold out, and it seemed very clear that there was a community of theater goers who were really eager for new, fringy-type shows.  With PortFringe starting two years later, and with it thousands of people coming out to see all of the weirdness, it only confirmed what we already knew:  Portland loves theater.  

It seems like PortFringe has fully come into it’s own this year, and hopefully it will continue to be a foundation for all of us weirdo’s who can’t afford our own theater – this is the beauty of PortFringe: That it can offer temporary homes for those of us who would otherwise be homeless, and with Portland expanding the way that it is, with every potential vacant storefront turning into a hotel or condo, it is imperative that we come together as our own community and help each other out – it’s the only way that we can continue to do what we love and most importantly WHAT PORTLAND LOVES.

Lobster, or Steak? Discuss.

According to The Suffrage Cookbook which came out in 1915 – Creamed Lobster was a thing.  Personally though, I would try the Braised Rolled Flank Steak from Mrs. Wilson’s Cook Book (1920).


Saturday, June 28 at 10:00pm – Empire

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