Celebrating Ephemera

One of the unique features of live theatre or a musical concert is that it is live. You watch real actors in the same room with you saying real lines and portraying real emotions. The same is true of concerts. Technology may be present; there will be lights, amplified and sometimes processed sound. There may be multi-media going on in the background, or even pyrotechnics. But what is important is that the artists and the audience are in the same space breathing the same air at the same time. The situation becomes an event. It is not repeatable; the next time the performance happens, it will be different, which is part of the appeal.

Of course, with other technology today, recordings of the concert or the play or the speech or the dance or whatever will appear on You-Tube within hours, or may be placed there before the event to act as advertising. There are complete recordings to be sold on DVD and Blu-Ray. Excerpts may be posted on individual web sites. So when a live performance event comes along that does not allow recording, either by the staff or by the audience members, it’s news.

That’s right, no recordings, not even secret ones. There are absolutely no recordings of this event, and, according to its founder there never will be: “You have to go, or you missed it.” He goes on to say “I find that people watch a thing differently when it really is going to happen once. I think you focus in a different way, I think you remember in a different way.”

This new form of performance ephemera is Pop-Up Magazine, which appears at irregular intervals and different places in San Francisco. In that respect it follows the model of pop-up restaurants.

Unless you’ve been living in a culvert for the past few years, you have probably heard of pop-up restaurants, which appear for hours, days, months, then disappear. It is a form of gastronomic adventure that is publicized via social media and internet. Of course, one of the appeals of pop-up anything is that you never know where it will be or when or even if it will ever be again.

Pop-Up Magazine is, in some ways, reminiscent of the Living Newspaper produced by the Federal Theatre Project, except that in this case the focus in not so much on presenting current events as it is on presenting a varied magazine format: a mixture of shorts and features in which artists tell stories or present ideas. And these presentations are short, running 17seconds to 6 minutes. You can expect to find at least twenty articles in any given issue.

The presentations are not random.  According to Editor-In-Chief Douglas McGray, it is more like “an old fashioned mix-tape where there’s a certain art in figuring out what flows well into something else.”  Even the ads are live presentations.

An additional goal of Pop-Up Magazine is creativity. Contributors are sought for what they can bring to the magazine, but then they might be asked to do something different: “Once we figure out what makes sense to do onstage, sometimes we’ll collaborate really closely and figure out how we can encourage someone to experiment with different forms,” he says. “We’ll have a radio producer who will decide that they’re going to try out using some Super 8 film or using some images. Or we’ll have an illustrator who will get paired with someone who works in sound.

Pop-Up Magazine is not the only live event of its kind out there, but it is one of the most imaginative, and its insistence on no recordings will continue to make it unique and sought after. The last issue, the fifth, “sold out all 2,600 seats at Davies Symphony Hall in two hours.” So if you are interested, you will want to keep an eye on their web site. If you can’t make it to San Francisco, you might want to take in a live theatre or music event near you. It won’t be the same thing, but it will be live and therefore ephemeral and unique.


Date: Sunday, 27. November 2011 23:49
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Communication, Creativity, Theatre

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