Southbank Centre’s BAM – Being A Man festival, which launched in 2014, returns at the end of November to explore the challenges and pressures of masculine identity in the 21st century. Taking place a week after International Men’s Day (19 November), the festival will feature a 3-day programme of talks & debates, concerts, performances, comedy and workshops with contributions from over 150 speakers and performers, including Akala, Frankie Boyle, David Baddiel and Kellie Maloney.

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, said: "Men are often under pressure to demonstrate heroism, be daring and ‘man up’. BAM – Being a Man investigates what conflicts the modern man faces in a world where everything is changing: work, family, image and gender balance. It's an opportunity, amidst all the debate about men, for men themselves to come together to share stories, discuss the pleasures and challenges of being men, and look at what kind of world they want for themselves and others.”

Highlights of the festival confirmed so far, with further speakers and performers to be announced in early November include:

Music and comedy: 

  • BAM Live – an evening of music and discussion of what it is to be a man with guests including BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, writer, poet and historian Akala, comedian and writer Frankie Boyle

Literature and spoken word:

  • David Baddiel in conversation – comedian, novelist, screen writer and presenter David Baddiel joins Jude Kelly CBE, Artistic Director at Southbank Centre, to discuss everything from huge professional successes to his experiences of depression  
  • Kellie Maloney in conversation – formerly known as Frank Maloney, Kellie Maloney came to prominence as a flamboyant boxing manager and promoter. She discusses her extraordinary journey and the strides taken in promoting greater awareness and understanding of transgender issues
  • Letters to 007 – Why are still so obsessed with James Bond? A cast of speakers read letters to the famous spy alongside letters from Ian Fleming to explore Bond’s past and future selves 
  • Theatre of War – dramatic readings from Sophocles’ Ajax exploring the visible and invisible wounds of war now and in the ancient world
  • Poems That Make Grown Men Cry – Anthony and Ben Holden introduce readings from their anthology Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, a collection gathering one hundred men and the poems that move them to tears
  • Polari – London’s award-winning LGBT literary salon explores queer masculinity celebrates its eighth birthday

Performance and dance:

  • Of Man and Beast – a dynamic new outdoor dance piece by Company Chameleon exploring male group dynamics. The company returns after a successful run at Southbank Bank in 2014
  • Team of Decades – performance artist Will Dickie’s autobiographical piece for an audience of 10 commenting on male role models. Taking place in a local sports field, participants will play sport to understand and explore male relationships, strengths and weaknesses.
  • Hervé – nominated for a Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival 2012, French African busker Hervé Goffings tells the extraordinary story of his adoption by an unconventional white Belgian couple

Film screenings:

  • Jihad: A British Story – documentary by award-winning filmmaker Deeyah Khan exploring why and how young people have fallen prey to extremists
  • BAM NOW – BBC Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney talks to teenage boys from across the UK in an investigation about the reality of being a young man today
  • The Mask You Live In – documentary film directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom following young males as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating our culture’s narrow definition of masculinity. An official selection of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival
  • Inextinguishable Fire and Tiresias – BAM will screen two films by performance artist Cassils who uses the body to comment on gender, societal norms and violence. Inextinguishable Fire depicts a series of treacherous fire stunts which speak to the difficult topic of representing violence and trauma. In Tiresias Cassils draws on the greek myth of Tiresias who spent seven years living as woman. The film depicts Cassils melting an ice sculpture with pure body heat, demonstrating the instability of the body and our desire for a certain unsustainable physique.

Speakers include:

  • Jeremy Hardy (comedian)
  • Jimmie Briggs (one of the most important figures working in human rights activism today)
  • Mads Nissen (photographer and winner of World Press Photo 2015)
  • Charlie Condou (actor)
  • Gemma Cairney (Radio 1 DJ)
  • Jake Mills (stand up comedian)
  • Mark Simpson (writer and journalist)
  • Tim Samuels (documentary filmmaker, broadcaster and host of BBC 5Live’s Men’s Hour)
  • Ekow Eshun (writer, journalist and broadcaster)
  • Deeyah Khan (Emmy award winning film maker)
  • Rick Edwards (broadcaster, television presenter and writer)
  • Harris Elliott (creative director and co-curator of the Return of the Rudeboy exhibition at Somerset House in 2014)
  • James Sutton (Actor, plays John Paul McQueen in Hollyoaks)
  • Asif Quraishi (Britain's first out Muslim Drag Queen and LGBT activist)
  • Justin Coghlan (founder, Movember)
  • Matt Cain (TV presenter and writer)
  • Joris Luyendijk (investigative journalist and writer of the Banking Blog for the Guardian between 2011 - 2013, author of Swimming With Sharks: my journey into the world of bankers)
  • Owen Sheers (novelist, poet and playwright)

Discussion topics include:

  • The Beautiful Game – a panel of football fans and sceptics, including poet Paul Lyalls and broadcaster Tim Samuels talk about the positive and negative imagery that surrounds this beloved sport.
  • Breaking the Silence: Rape on Hollyoaks – the producers and cast of Hollyoaks, including Duncan Craig, CEO of Survivors Manchester, actor James Sutton, Bryan Kirkwood, Executive Producer of Hollyoaks, Lee Mason, Commissioning Editor, Drama for Channel 4 and Dr Joanna Jamel, Course Lead in Criminological Psychology at Kingston University discuss the groundbreaking storyline involving the rape of central male character John Paul McQueen
  • Banged Up: Men Behind Bars – a panel of former prisoners and experts debate whether the prison system brutalises male inmates and what reforms are needed
  • He’s a Dedicated Follower of Fashion – stylish men including Terry Betts, formerly of Selfridges, Mr Porter and Harvey Nichols and now Head of Business Development at Thread, Adnan Ansari, founder & Creative Director of Riwayat, TV presenter and Guardian fashion columnist Rick Edwards and Harris Elliott, Creative Director and co-curator of the Return of the Rude Boy exhibition at Somerset House in 2014 explore the relationship between men and fashion
  • Ganging Up – former gang members and leading experts in gang culture investigate the often deadly impact of gang culture on young people and the sense of ‘family’ that attracts young men to gang membership
  • I Had A Black Dog, His Name Was Depression – a panel of experts and campaigners discuss the damaging stigma around depression and how we can enable men to ask for a find help
  • And When Did You Last See Your Father? – Hear men and parenting experts discuss their rites of passage and role models, while sharing their experiences of being fathers and sons
  • Mad Men, X Men and Grand Theft Auto – an exploration of whether our media reflects the men we want to be
  • Being a Black Man – panel exploring the contradictory and complex ideas around black masculinity
  • A Fine Bromance – a discussion on male friendship covering everything from competition and ‘bromance’ to growing up together
  • British Asian Men – How do men in the South Asian community view their manhood and deal with life's big issues? Join a panel of men including writer, performer, storyteller and music producer Shane Solanki, Sandeep Virdee, Artistic Director of Darbar Festival, and Asif Quraishi, Britain’s first out male Muslim Drag Queen, to find out.
  • Sex and the City: the singles, the marrieds and the wanting to have it alls – BAM considers the spectrum of sexual desires and whether promiscuity is built in and inevitable for men.

Workshops and participation

  • Best Mo’ in Show – expert judges from the Movember Foundation, famous for its annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, select the ‘Best Mo’ in this catwalk show.
  • The Relationship between Men and Beer – The Bottle Shop will present an intimate and relaxed beer-tasting workshop
  • Beer Brewing Basics for the Modern Man – Michele Sensidoni, Head Brewer for Mastri Birrai Umbri, the largest craft brewery in Italy will uncover the secrets and trends of brewing today.
  • Broga – a full body workout grounded in yoga fundamentals
  • Pram Jam: Just for Dads – dads, granddads and male carers are invited to move and groove with their little ones
  • Beyond the Bassline – Southbank Centre’s singing initiative Voicelab introduce men of all ages and singing abilities to music which feels good to sing
  • London School of Capoeira will lead a workshop with one of London’s Master teachers of Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that contains both music and dance as key components.

Tickets: £15 (day pass Friday/Saturday/Sunday), £35 (three day pass)

Please note that certain events are not included in the day pass and will require a separate ticket


0844 847 9944

Friday 27 November – Sunday 29 November 2015

Huffington Post UK is Media Partner of BAM - Being A Man festival 2015