Plan your festival: Being a Man for those interested in male identity

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 11:49

This year’s Being A Man festival features three days that are packed with talks, debates and performances covering a vast number of topics to do with 21st-century masculinity.

To help our day and weekend pass holders plan what to see, we’ve put together a series of guides, around themes within the festival. In this, the second of our trilogy, we turn the focus on talks centred on understanding the male identity.


The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall at 10.30am

A boy’s journey into manhood: Kevin Powell

Kevin Powell is an African-American writer of 12 books, a well-known political activist, and the co-founder of BK Nation, a new American civil rights and human rights organisation. He kicks off this year’s Being A Man festival in this conversation which centres on his critically acclaimed autobiography of the same name.

info & tickets

Level 5 Function Room, Green side, Royal Festival Hall at 12 noon

Class: boys and education

Social class can define the chances of young men and boys. This session takes a 360-degree look at education, from the challenges faced by working-class boys in state schools, to the atmosphere of bullying and outdated ideas of masculinity at private schools.

info & tickets


Royal Festival Hall at 2.30pm

How not to be a boy: Robert Webb

Hear Robert Webb, famous as an actor and comedian, read from and discuss his funny, moving memoir. He looks at what happens when young boys are encouraged to suppress their true selves and behave in ways supposedly appropriate to their gender, as well as his own experience of fatherhood.

info & tickets

St Paul's Roof Pavilion, Level 6, Blue side, Royal Festival at 3.45pm

From Vikings to modern men: Nordic masculinity

Nordic countries tends to seen as more progressive and, perhaps, fairer, but what is the reality? In this conversation we hear from Ole Thorstensen, author of Making Things Right: A Master Carpenter at Work and Nils Rune Utsi aka Slincraze, a Sami-Norwegian rapper who was the subject of award-winning documentary, Arctic Superstar.

info & tickets

Royal Festival Hall, 5pm

Simon Amstell in conversation

Award-winning comedian Simon Amstell, who recently published a memoir called Help, muses on modern masculinity, from growing up as a young gay person in Essex to an Ayahuasca-led epiphany in the Amazon rainforest.

info & tickets


Level 5 Function Room, Green side, Royal Festival Hall at 1.45 pm

Beyond the headlines: masculinity in the Middle East

Hear a panel of Middle Eastern men, including Gulwali Passarlay, an Afghan political refugee currently residing in the UK, talk about what it means to be a man in the Middle East today, as well as looking at the experiences of those who have left their homelands.

info & tickets

Level 5 Function Room, Green side, Royal Festival Hall at 3.15 pm

More than male: sex, identity and masculinity

What does it mean to be gay, bisexual, transgender or queer today? Hear a panel of speakers discuss their relationship with sexuality and identity at this celebration of the pluralities of modern sexual and gender identity.

info & tickets

The Clore Ballroom, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall at 4.45pm

What makes a man?

In this event, artist Mahtab Hussain (pictured) and poet Kayo Chingonyi get to the heart of what it is that men and boys use to construct their identities. What initiation rituals must they go through, and when can they call themselves men?

info & tickets

Being A Man takes place at Southbank Centre from 24 - 26 November, 2017. To get the most out of this year's festival, buy a day or weekend pass to see all of the events mentioned above, and more.

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This is the second of three guides to this year's Being A Man festival. Please find our guide to the festival for the politically minded, below.

BAM for the politically minded