Pop-Up Magazine’s popular live program, on the road from California, comes to Town Hall.
Pop-Up Magazine, a “live magazine” showcase of true stories told through film, art, radio and more, is coming to Seattle on Wednesday (Oct. 21) as part of its first national tour. If you miss it, don’t expect to find anything on YouTube.
“It’s meant to be ephemeral,” said editor-in-chief Doug McCray.
No recordings are allowed, and the stories themselves are kept a mystery until showtime.
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 21, at Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave, Seattle; $30-$45 (206-652-4255 or eventbrite.com/e/pop-up-magazine-seattle-town-hall-tickets-18264164608)
What is promised, however, is an idiosyncratic collection of narrative presentations followed by an after party and informal Q&A with the people presenting them.
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What began in a 200-seat theater in San Francisco in 2009 now routinely sells out its 2,700-seat shows in less than an hour. This year the organizers are taking the show on the road outside of California for the first time, and each stop will include both a regular lineup of contributors as well as a few local ones unique to each city.
Like an art-house TED Talk crossed with an episode of “This American Life,” each 3- to 10-minute piece will offer something different utilizing a stage, a screen and the live audience.
For the contributors, the event offers a place for stories that for one reason or another don’t suit other platforms.
“There’s some story they stumble upon, and they’d really love to do it somehow but it just doesn’t fit anywhere, and Pop-Up is the best venue for that,” said New York Times Magazine writer and Bainbridge Island resident Jon Mooallem. “You’re seeing it in a way that could only happen on stage.”
At the Seattle event, Mooallem will be profiling a man who is fanatical about a particular kind of audio recording, which, naturally, will use a heavy dose of sound effects.
The live setting offers something new and exciting for the performers, who often have backgrounds in writing, radio or other media where the audience is more removed from the storyteller.
“A live situation is really special because you get that immediate feedback. Sometimes its great, sometimes its not, but you get it right away,” said senior editor Pat Walters, who previously was a producer for NPR’s “Radiolab.”
That personal feedback extends beyond just the show itself and into the party that follows.
“A Q&A is more fun with drinks in hand,” the website explains.
It’s the natural bookend to an event focused on a storytelling experience that’s meant to be more personal and intimate than what is typically offered these days.
“There’s something really powerful about the idea of coming together in a dark room with lots of people, and turning off your phone, and knowing that the thing you’re going to see will happen just once. You pay attention in a different way,” McCray said.
“The night feels special because of all that.”