Vann R. Newkirk II speaks at a previous Pop-Up Magazine show. Newkirk, a staff writer for “The Atlantic,” is one of eight storytellers who will be part of Pop-Up Magazine’s show at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Wednesday.

Pop-Up Magazine will be headlining this year’s Afternoon of Conversation at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

The Afternoon of Conversation marks the midway point between the festival’s two halves and traditionally gathers most attendees to the Benedict Music Tent for a few hours of big-idea discussions. This year’s event will start with award-winning musician Common talking about his latest book, “Let Love Have the Last Word,” along with Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute.

Following the discussion, Pop-Up Magazine will put on a unique show of storytelling and music. The show features journalists and storytellers from a variety of backgrounds using illustration, animation and photography alongside the live music of Magik*Magik Orchestra to tell non-fiction stories.

“It’s a really dynamic and fun afternoon of storytelling that will put forth ideas that people can chew on long after the event,” said Anita Badejo, Pop-Up Magazine’s executive editor. “We have so much respect for [Aspen Ideas]. It’s an amazing gathering of great minds.”

Pop-Up Magazine is based in San Francisco, and Badejo said it was founded in 2009 with the idea to bring journalists from print, broadcast and other media together to tell stories in multimedia ways.

In 2014, Pop-Up took the magazine on the road with multimedia shows and now tours to over a dozen cities annually. The performances are joined by Magik*Magik Orchestra, led by Minna Choi, who composes the music for the shows and both directs and plays in the orchestra.

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The show at Ideas Fest will feature eight stories from a wide range of storytellers. In one, Rowan Jacobsen of “A Geography of Oysters” will discuss the science of extracting DNA from extinct plants to revive them. If that sounds a lot like the plot to “Jurassic Park,” Badejo agrees and promises surprises to audience members who attend.

Other stories include one from Francesca Mari of “The California Sunday Magazine” and “Texas Monthly,” about a senior living facility set up to look like a town square from the 1950s; and a look at environmental justice and racism from Vann R. Newkirk II, a staff writer for “The Atlantic.”

The lineup also includes filmmakers Veena Rao of “The New York Times” Op-Docs and Sophia Nahli Allison of the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Lab; photographer Xyza Bacani; comedian Mohanad Elshieky; and opera singer Emily Birsan.

Badejo said Aspen Ideas Festival approached Pop-Up Magazine about playing a role in this year’s event. The ideas that Pop-Up explores through its shows made it a natural fit for the festival.

“They were looking for really interesting dynamic programming for the Afternoon of Conversation,” Badejo said. “We were thrilled with the opportunity because we feel like we have so much synergy with the Ideas Festival.”

The Afternoon of Conversation will start at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. It’s open to all Ideas Fest passholders, and public tickets may still be available for purchase (check the Wheeler Box Office on Monday or Tuesday). For more information, visit

To learn more about Pop-Up Magazine and its tours, head to

Chapman is the web editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at or on Twitter @Nescwick.