In San Francisco, one of the most popular things right now is a live story-telling event called Pop-Up Magazine. It has been covered by The New York Times and lots of other national media, so I won’t bore you with too many details, but the gist is this: people come on stage and tell you a story and use audio/visual aids to help. It’s a few good hours of story time. The last two shows, which had 2,743 seats available sold out in 45 and 15 minutes respectively. As a New Yorker, I immediately thought of The Moth, one of the greatest live story-telling platforms ever. I have fond memories of a birthday spent re-organizing my bookshelves and listening to 12 hours of The Moth‘s podcasts (I do what I want.)
Pop-Up Magazine, however does not record their highly sought after performances, preferring them to exist only for one evening, while The Moth allows no audio/visual aids. So, when I found out that This American Life, possibly the grandfather of all such podcasts, was animating their series, I was intrigued. Launching tomorrow, the show was originally performed live with host Ira Glass and then streamed directly into movie theaters across the country. The idea was to curate stories that need some sort of visual assistance. David Sedaris dressed up as a clown. Mr. Glass chose to talk about the work of the late street photographer Vivian Maier, who we here at Dossier also find fascinating. (Please refer to Dossier Issue # 8.) Maybe most touchingly, longtime This American Life contributor David Rakoff talked about the abilities he lost during his fight with cancer, and then, gracefully performed a solo dance onstage. It was the last story Rakoff ever wrote for the radio show as he died three months later.
If this heralds a grand renaissance for live story-telling remains to be seen, but it sure is nice to put the phone away for a few hours and listen to a good story.
Starting November 15th, through This American Life website you can stream the entire show to your computer or phone or whatever device you are into for five dollars. Trailer below.