Tonight, writers, journalists, photographers and others present their work in a theatrical context that ultimately ends at the bar.

pop-up magazine photo
Pop-Up Magazine live in Los Angeles, by Erin Brethauer

"Live" and "magazine" aren't two words that normally go together, but Pop-Up Magazine is working to change that. Originating in the Bay Area in 2009, Pop-Up puts on shows all over the U.S., bringing renowned artists together to perform or show original reported features. The shows aren't recorded or posted online in any way, and afterward the artists and audience mingle, creating a powerful, singular experience. I talked with Pop-Up Magazine publisher Chas Edwards to learn more about the show, coming Friday to the Civic Theatre at 7:30 pm.

What is the idea behind Pop-Up Magazine? 

Pop-Up Magazine is a live magazine—an evening of original, true stories by prominent writers, filmmakers, photographers, podcasters and radio producers, performed in large theaters and opera houses across the country. On a giant screen above the contributors, animation, film and photography illustrates each story, and our house band, the Magik*Magik Orchestra, performs musical scores. The night ends gathered around the bar, with the performers and audience mingling together.

What does a typical show consist of?

Pop-Up Magazine takes its name from those children's books that become three dimensional when you open them up. We find a collection of wonderful new stories—funny ones, heartbreaking ones, inspiring ones, unexpected ones—and bring the whole experience to life with music and art and interactive elements that you can only do inside a theater with a live audience. It's a deeply immersive, richly multimedia adaptation of magazine journalism. Some elements even make a direct reference to magazines, such as a printed program that's organized like a Table of Contents, and a live Letter from the Editor to welcome fans to the show. 

How are the contributors/story subjects chosen?

Our producers spend several months talking to filmmakers, photographers, radio producers, musicians, and writers, inviting them to pitch new original stories. We review hundreds of pitches to find the dozen or so that comprise a new issue of the touring show. 

How is Coach involved? 

Coach is the presenting sponsor of the Winter 2018 tour, and asked our Brand Studio to help develop sponsored content that would appeal to our fans as much as the editorial stories do. Our Brand Studio team reached out to cool, creative women in each city we're visiting on this tour—such as Amanda Brinkman here in New Orleans —and asked them to show us their cities. Amanda is the founder of the arts non-profit Pelican Bomb, and creator of the "Nasty Woman" T-shirts that became the unofficial uniform at the Women's Marches around the world in 2017. She put on a favorite Coach outfit and took us to the Music Box, the New Orleans Athletic Club, the Bayou St. John, Material Life, and other favorite local spots. Excerpts of this guide will be presented as a Coach-sponsored photo essay on stage at the Civic Friday night, in between editorial stories. 

Why was New Orleans chosen as a show location?

We love to bring Pop-Up Magazine to cities that have vibrant creative communities, so New Orleans has been on our wish list for a long time. 

Can you give any information about the pieces the audience will see on Friday? 

The evening will include 10 original stories by writers, filmmakers, radio people, and photographers. Nathaniel Rich, the writer whose new novel, King Zeno, is set in New Orleans, tells a true-crime story from the early days of jazz.  Photographer L. Kasimu Harris will explore the various lounges of New Orleans in a photo essay. And one story is a choose-your-own-adventure, where the audience will participate in the ultimate direction it takes!

How often does Pop-Up Magazine happen?

We create a new "issue" of Pop-Up Magazine three times a year—once in the Winter, once in the Spring, and once in the Fall—and tour the new show to cities around the country.