Pop-Up Magazine brings longform stories to the stage

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Pop-Up Magazine brings longform stories to the stage

Pop Up Magazine Show

Photo courtesy Jon Snyder

Pop Up Magazine Show Photo courtesy Jon Snyder

Pop Up Magazine Show Photo courtesy Jon Snyder

Pop Up Magazine Show Photo courtesy Jon Snyder

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By Allie Kuo

On May 19, Pop-Up Magazine, a live show that combines the power of storytelling with visuals and an accompanying orchestra, is coming to Emerson’s Cutler Majestic Theatre.

Created in 2009 by founder and editor-in-chief Doug McGray, Pop-Up Magazine was conceived as a way to fill a niche where storytellers of different mediums can collaborate. Journalists, photographers, artists and other creative minds come together in one space to share stories about their lives and experiences.

The event began with one show at a 300-seat theater in San Francisco and has grown to three national tours a year.  

Each show consists of around 10 nonfiction stories narrated by artists, audio producers, writers, photographers and other emerging talents. The team of three full-time producers receive pitches from potential contributors and reach out to individuals whose work they believe would fit with Pop-Up Magazine’s format.

“We look particularly for stories that are surprising, that lend themselves to multimedia, and that can really be made “live” or performative some way — say, through audience participation, or incorporating other arts like dance, or drag, or opera, or puppetry,” senior story producer Anita Badejo said in an April 24 email to the News.

This can only be experienced in-person, as one of the key aspects of the show is that it’s unrecorded. Even though it seems impossible to attend a performance nowadays without seeing at least a few glowing screens taking videos and photos, audience members are typically cognizant of the way that Pop-Up Magazine functions as a phone-free environment. Badejo finds that people are very respectful of this fact.

Pop-Up Magazine at the Curran San Francisco on Thursday, February 1, 2018. / Photo courtesy Erin Brethauer

“We’re so glued to screens all the time, it’s refreshing to put our phones away for a night to focus on sharing an experience with other people,” Badejo said.

This is one of five stops on Pop-Up Magazine’s 2018 Spring Issue tour, with shows in New York, Los Angeles, Oakland and Washington D.C.. Each show features a unique set of contributors, along with storytellers that tour and perform at all of the shows.

For the Boston performance, Meredith Goldstein, the advice columnist and reporter behind the Boston Globe’s “Love Letters” column, will be speaking about her job and experience as a Bostonian. She will also be joined by actress Joy Bryant from “Good Girls Revolt” and “Parenthood,” New York Times Magazine writer John Jeremiah Sullivan, New Yorker writer Helen Rosner, photographer Andres Gonzalez and several other creatives.

There are sure to be plenty of inspirational and magical moments at the Pop-Up Magazine, with performers from all sorts of fields and backgrounds gathered to share their stories in this immersive environment. It’s the perfect opportunity to take a break from the allure of your phone and listen in on an updated, grown-up storytime — if only for a few hours.

Use referral code STUDENT to knock $10 off each ticket for student, faculty and staff.