Pop-Up Magazine brings its unique live storytelling to the Buckhead Theatre

From secret maps to karaoke, the audience always gets in on the fun at this traveling variety show

Pop-up Magazine Atlanta
Jon-Sesrie Goff performs at a Pop-Up Magazine show in Los Angeles.

Photograph courtesy of Pop-Up Magazine

On February 20, national award–winning Pop-Up Magazine returns to Atlanta—this time playing at the Buckhead Theatre. Don’t go looking for YouTube videos of last year’s show at Variety Playhouse—you won’t find any. The producers refuse to tape these live, multimedia extravaganzas. You literally have to be there, which is why the series routinely sells out venues across the country from Lincoln Theatre in D.C. to San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall.

Jon-Sesrie Goff, a Morehouse alum who is performing in this winter’s “issue,” caught last season’s show in New York. “I was blown away by the power of the storytelling. It felt like a live magazine. And I liked the idea it wasn’t being recorded”—an ironic assessment, given that Goff is a filmmaker. Specifically, he is the executive director of The Flaherty, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit which directs the longest continuously running film event in North America. Goff spent his early career producing video for Janelle Monáe at her Wondaland Arts Society in Atlanta. For Pop-Up, he will perform a live narration accompanied by excerpts from his film, After Sherman—which began as an exploration of his family’s Gullah roots in the Low Country but took an unexpected turn when the Charleston shooting occurred during filming. His father is an elder of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and served as an interim pastor in the aftermath of the tragedy. Goff’s piece will be accompanied by an original score composed by Atlanta artist Terrence “T” Brown and performed by Pop-Up’s Magik*Magik orchestra.

The series, launched about a decade ago in San Francisco by California Sunday Magazine (an actual print publication), has become famous for its wide variety of acts, from short films and animations to puppet shows, photography, and, of course, live music. Its trademark audience participation has involved sing-alongs, secret braille maps, and glow sticks. Other performers in the Atlanta show will include Liana Finck, a cartoonist and advice columnist for the New Yorker; Jordan Klepper, comedian and host of The Opposition with Jordan Klepper and a Daily Show correspondent; and Diana Markosian, a photographer whose clients include National Geographic Magazine and the New York Times.