Being A Man (BAM) Festival: Exploring The Changing Nature Of Masculinity

18th September 2017

Being A Man (BAM) festival will return to the Southbank Centre this November; exploring the challenges and pressures of masculine identity in the twenty-first century. The festival will offer a lively and candid space to share stories, discussions and new ideas, and hear from men who share wide-ranging life stories from personal perspectives.

A number of vibrant talks, debates, comedy acts, performances, interactive workshops and a range of free events for the public to attend will take over the Southbank Centre from Friday 24th – Sunday 26th of November.

Simon Amstell photographed by Harry Carr

Robert Webb, Simon Amstell, Alan Hollinghurst, Kevin Powell, Antonythasan Jesuthasan and Slincraze bring a star line up to the festival, which ultimately aims to challenge the stigma that can make it more difficult for men to discuss issues in their life, and takes a frank, funny look at inherited ideas of masculinity and how these are changing in 2017.

Aimed at all ages; audiences can immerse themselves in a Nordic shouting masterclass with the Finnish Screaming Men’s Choir Huutajat, enjoy irreverent stand-up comedy, retreat to pop-up Men in Sheds workshops, take in cutting-edge film screenings and join in powerful debates on hard-hitting topics such as mental health, body image, pornography, trans identity, masculinity in the Middle East, and men in the media.

Free activities include the mindfulness run, which is a five kilometre run around Central London with mindfulness stops along the way and lively interactive workshops including the Craft a Man workshop and the Living Library, which offers an opportunity to ‘borrow’ a man and be inspired by the stories of those who have taken action to make change.
Other highlights include a film screening and discussion event, where actor Antonythasan Jesuthasan will reflect on his extraordinary journey from fighting in Sri Lanka’s civil war as a teenage soldier to starring in Jacques Audiard’s 2016 Palme d’Or winning Dheepan (Saturday 25 November).

Kayo Chingonyi photographed by Naomi Waddis
Kayo Chingonyi photographed by Naomi Waddis

American political activist and author Kevin Powell will be in attendance to discuss his latest book, The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood (Friday 24 November). And Man Booker Prize winning author Alan Hollinghurst will talk about his sixth novel The Sparsholt Affair, which explores the changing attitudes towards gay men from the 1940's to the present day (Sunday 26 November).

In addition to the array of activities and speakers mentioned above, there will be a number of panel discussions: More Than Talking – comedian and CALM campaigner Jack Rooke and Edinburgh comedy performer Richard Gadd explore men and mental health (Friday 24 November). Grime to Classical: Men and Music – will look at the role that music plays in shaping male identity with Jeffrey Boayke, author of Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millennials and the Meaning of Grime and rapper Slincraze (Friday 24 November).

Slincraze photographed by Viktoria Tatiana
Slincraze photographed by Lisa Viktoria Tatiana

Delving into 2017's political state of affairs, From Trump to Trudeau: Masculinity in Power – from ‘strong-men’ politicians like Trump and Putin to a new wave of male politicians such as Macron and Trudeau – a panel of politicians, authors and experts will investigate the role of masculinity in power (Sunday 26 November).

Beyond the Headlines: Masculinity in the Middle East – a panel of Middle Eastern men from the diaspora, journalists and experts discuss what it means to be a man in the Middle East today, with speakers including Gulwali Passarlay, an Afghan political refugee and author (Sunday 26 November). Finally More than Male: Sex, Identity and Masculinity will celebrate the pluralities of masculinity and exploring what it means to be a gay, bisexual or transgender man today (Sunday 26 November)
Ted Hodgkinson, Lead Programmer for BAM festival, Southbank Centre, said: “This year promises to break new ground, and be a thought-provoking, inspiring and fun weekend, exploring the things that make a man and the things we inherit, believe and learn along the way. It’s a global journey that stretches from the UK, across the Nordic countries, to the Middle East and beyond.”
BAM festival was launched in 2014 and ties in with International Men's Day (Sunday 19 November 2017). Themes of the festival also tie in with Southbank Centre's year-long programme exploring Nordic arts and culture, Nordic Matters. Find out more here.
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