BAM!, the festival of Berlin’s independent music theatre scene, is back!

In 2022, the diversity of its programme reflects the enormous variety of this scene in experimenting with forms of performance and modes of expression of a new music theatre. Once again, Berlin proves to be a metropolis and melting pot of a “different” music theatre – a music theatre between performing arts and performance, pop and post-avant-garde, so-called “contemporary music” and electronic grooves.

Since the last staging of the festival in October 2019, independent music theatre maneuvered through a difficult time. With the will to live and the unbroken vitality of the independent music theatre scene, BAM! this year also reflects the intense confrontation with a changed world. Often the programme is about isolation and contact, about physicality and the disembodiment of our relationships, about irritation and insecurity in perception of the external.

This edition of the festival also differs from its last in its formats. Not to stand still as artists, many shifted from the stage to digital space during the lockdown. The addition of an extensive film programme to the festival’s lineup acknowledges the amount of interesting work that has been produced in this field over the past two years. BAM!s centre in 2022 will still be Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, but the Volksbühne will now be joined diagonally across the street by the Babylon Cinema, built by Hans Poelzig in the 1920s.

Until not so long ago, formats that aimed to involve the audience were at the heart of free music theatre. But since the mask has returned to the theatre and moved from the stage to the auditorium, the wall between the two is no longer so easy to tear down. Nevertheless, many have not let themselves be driven out of the idea of activating the audience. In this respect, installative formats offer a counter-model to the corona-enforced evasion of theatre into pixels. Their staged spaces circumvent the restriction of contact in that visitors remain the only actors. Alongside filmic works, installative formats are therefore an important addition to this year’s programme. Just as Babylon invites visitors to the BAM! film reel over three days, so does the Villa Elisabeth to visit its installations.

Music theatre was once a field that united Europe’s cultures in a conflictual exchange of ideas. Due to a lack of institutions and networks, however, Europe’s new music theatre is disintegrating into local paths and directions that hardly know about each other, let alone find their way to creative exchange with each other. In order to escape this regionalisation, BAM! also looks beyond the Berlin horizon at each festival and seeks to engage with a different centre of new music theatre in Europe.

An alternative escape route, from the corona-enforced evasion of the theatre into the pixels of the film world, is that of the installation – the staging of a space in which visitors themselves appear as the sole actors. Just as the Babylon continuously invites visitors to view the “BAM! film reel” over a period of three days, Villa Elisabeth also invites visitors to view its installations.

With its “Mapping Music Theatre” programme, BAM! therefore reaches beyond Berlin and seeks to engage with another centre of new music theatre in Europe, which changes each time the festival is held. In 2022, the focus will be on Switzerland. Three theatre productions, a late-night performance, an installation, and an associated panel complement the Berlin programme.

Also this year BAM! offers the possibility of engaging in conversation, controversy and the formation of one’s own ideas in the comparison of competing paths of current music theatre. All venues are close to one another. BAM!‘s Festival Lounge is a meeting space for conversations. Despite increased costs, ticket prices have not been raised. For many events – including the popular late-night events – admission is also free. And in 2022, BAM!‘s own tried-and-tested discount system will continue to apply when multiple tickets are purchased.

We are looking forward to meeting you!