Although we try to keep it all-Hill, all-the-time, a person’s gotta leave the neighborhood on occasion. And I’m here to tell you that next time Pop-Up Magazine comes to DC –which happens in spring, winter and fall– catch their next show. I was lucky enough to be offered tickets to check out the October 7, 2019, show at the Lincoln Theatre and I loved it. The latest issue of the magazine, called “The Escape Issue,” wrapped up its tour last week, but they’ll be back in winter. You can take a look at their site for more information here.
If you’ve never heard of Pop-Up Magazine, the format is a little bit like The Moth but with a strong audiovisual component. As its name indicates, it’s as if a magazine popped up in living color, right before your very eyes. Several speakers recite prepared monologues that can range from personal experiences to collective ones. The thread that unites them is a theme, which in this case was the idea of escape: From the antics of Betsy, the cow who escaped the rodeo in Anchorage, to the death row inmates who escape their tight confinement as they play Dungeons and Dragons and wait for death, each storyteller transported the audience through their craft. Some of the stories were raw and personal; some were hilarious and self-conscious.
On a projector behind the speaker, photos and bespoke illustrations designed for each monologue by one of the contributing artists help bring the story to life. The Magik*Magik Orchestra rounded out the audiovisual component, providing melodic echoes, subtle drumbeats or rousing renditions of “Born to Run”– anything to bring layers of connection to the piece unfurling on the stage.
The only thing about an evening of Pop-Up Magazine is that, once it’s done, it’s gone forever– although in the case of The Escape Issue, a collaboration between Pop-Up and its sister publication The California Sunday Magazine, many of them now live in the pages of California Sunday Magazine. As with a good book, I would not mind hearing a couple of the stories again, but it’s nice that many live on, digitally. I recommend you read the story of the man who wanted to escape being a meme, as well as the spiritual seekers trying to escape the horrors of a meaningless life in Sedona, Arizona. You’ll laugh and cry and probably will reread them and share them with friends. I hope you do.
You can chat, mingle and have a drink with the performers afterwards. This camaraderie makes the evening more special and worthy to hold onto.