Quick Q+A: Pop-Up Magazine + Anita Badejo

Images from Pop Up Magazine at the Paramount Theatre on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 in Oakland, Calif.

Images by Erin Brethauer
@erinbrethauer

Pop-Up Magazine—a “live magazine” experience featuring multimedia stories told by reporters, writers, radio producers and more—makes its Twincy debut on Friday (November 3rd) at the Fitzgerald Theater. The local installment of the show will feature stories by APM’s homegrown, Peabody-Award winning series In The Dark host Madeleine Baran and senior producer and Samara Freemark, and afterward, performers, producers, and the audience stick around for drinks and conversation.

As fans of both traditional and innovative new forms of magazines, we’re pretty psyched to see—and hear!—the show. Before settling in for some killer storytelling, we checked in over email with show producer senior producer and Pop-Up co-host Anita Badejo.

Secrets of the City: How did a live magazine show get developed? Was the impetus for Pop-Up Magazine to just skip the media pivot to video entirely and get right to the pivot of “live shows with multi-media content”?

Anita Badejo: Interestingly enough, Pop-Up predates those pivots! The show was created in 2009, when our founder and editor-in-chief Doug McGray was still a freelance journalist. He had started his career as a writer, and eventually also started producing radio stories, and he found it really odd that storytellers in different mediums don’t cross paths as often as you’d think. He and our other founders started Pop-Up as a collaborative way to bring all types of storytellers together, and to celebrate journalism and storytelling in all its unique, creative forms. The first show was at a 300-seat theater in San Francisco and it just grew from there. Eight years later, we’re performing at really big theaters with three national tours a year!

How does the live show play to the audience? Should we warn people ahead of time that they’re likely going to get goosebumps, maybe tear up a little from the stories? More of our readers will likely go if there’s a promise of pandering.

We craft our stories in order to move people, so laughs, tears, goosebumps, gasps, etc. are definitely part of the experience. Most stories also have original scores by our house band, Magik*Magik Orchestra, which really helps set a unique mood for each of them. We often hear from people after the show that it’s one of the most emotionally compelling events they’ve attended.

We love that this show has “issues” instead of seasons, what other fun print elements does the program covert over from physical magazines? Is there a masthead? Back of book? Long delays on payments to freelancers?

In the program, each story has a slug in addition to its title, and they often play off of popular magazine sections. So, you might open it up and find stories that are slugged anything from, “Politics,” “Business,” and “Food,” to “Advice,” “How-To,” and “Relationships.” And the show itself is loosely structured like a magazine, with a front of book and a feature well. Our shorter pieces tend to open the show, whereas longer, more narrative pieces tend to be concentrated in the second half.

Each performance has contributors from all over the spectrum, including Peabody-Award winning series “In The Dark” host Madeleine Baran and senior producer and Samara Freemark at the St. Paul date. But everyone will likely ask: Why isn’t Levar Burton at the St. Paul date? Where’s Levar Burton?

Ha, LeVar was wonderful! While many storytellers do tour with us, each show is unique, and we want to make the experience of seeing Pop-Up Magazine in each of the cities we visit special. The Twin Cities edition of this issue is really, really great, and one of the more unique ones among the tour in terms of the mix of themes, story formats, and live, interactive moments. It’s going to be fun.

There was a mention of a potential foray even further in different modes of story-telling, including augmented reality. Should people be “subscribing” to Pop-Up even if they can’t make the show? (You can make the show, there’s a few tickets left, though.)

Definitely! Our mailing list is the best way to keep a pulse on it all, and there are going to be more and more ways to get involved.

We’re always experimenting with new mediums and there are so many things we’d like to play with. In the past, we’ve staged a special musical collaboration with Beck and McSweeney’s, that was part-concert, part-storytelling event. We’ve hosted a dinner with chef Samin Nosrat, where every course and part of the meal — down to the napkins — was tied to a story told by someone at the table. In Friday night’s show, there’s dance, which is a first for us, as well as a pretty glorious moment of audience participation (all I’ll say is it involves singing). Our format offers so many opportunities to figure out “What’s the best way to tell a story?” “How do we bring people into it?” and there’s no end to what we might try.

Some tickets are still available for the inaugural installment of Pop-Up Magazine here in MPLS + STPL. Friday, Nov 3rd, 7:30 PM. $31.50. Fitzgerald Theater.


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