Seattle Met hot take: magazines are cool. Ranking among what makes them cool is how they can take these requisite parts—visually-driven packages, long-form storytelling, departmental writing, good old-fashioned service journalism—and arrange them with a sort of rhythm, taking the reader on a little journey.
Douglas McGray keeps that multiformity and rhythm in the forefront of his mind with Pop-Up Magazine, the traveling show he co-founded in 2009 as a live, multimedia performance that aims to replicate the experience of flipping through the pages of your favorite periodical.
"We really take direct inspiration from the classic idea of a general interest magazine," says McGray. The event—which combines musical, visual, and storytelling components, starts faster and lively, mirroring often more digestible front-of-book sections. From there things deepen into something that feels like the meaty feature well. But unlike other live storytelling events like The Moth or This American Life live, the Pop-Up goes light on the memoir, instead drawing from magazine formats like profiles and dispatches.
The motif only goes so far, though. While magazines as objects are preserved for posterity, often returned to for a favorite recipe or a piece of transcendent reporting, the Pop-Up is meant to be experienced live, unrecorded and ephemeral. For McGray, doing it live and only live means people have to come out and be together for an evening. "When you don't record the show, people watch in a different way, remember in a different way," he says. And if there is a story you particularly liked you can't send a link afterward. You have to retell it yourself.
Pop-Up Magazine arrives at Town Hall this Thursday, its second visit since 2015, bringing along a dozen performers like author Laurel Braitman, Gastropod cohosts Nicola Twilley and Cynthia Graber, filmmaker Jamie Meltzer, with a live score by Magik*Magik Orchestra.
"Writers have their readings, film people have festivals, photographers have gallery events," says McGray. "What an interesting opportunity to smash all these worlds together."
Thur, Mar 9, Town Hall, Sold Out