The academy on Gendarmenmarkt should shine again and tremble with life, even if very serious topics are dealt with in it. This is how the invitation to the first Salon Sophie Charlotte of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (BBAW) in the pandemic, which can take place in direct togetherness, can be read.

“The house is open again,” invites host Christoph Markschies, BBAW President since October 2020, for Saturday, May 21, 2022. “We want to signal: Despite the war and Corona, it is important and worthwhile to get together right now.”

This is exactly what the withdrawn title of the public event wants to express on this Saturday – from 6 p.m. with free admission, only requested registration and affordable snacks and drinks: “still, life is life” – life is still life.

The meeting of probably hundreds of guests, scientists and other protagonists remains a bit filtered: FFP2 masks are absolutely part of the dress code on Saturday.

On the main stage, the “Theatre of the Anthropocene” will explore “Fragile Life” loosely based on the ancient Oedipus drama. In the lecture performance, marine biologist Antje Boetius and actresses talk about the climate crisis in the area around Thebes and an impending famine. Can the seers show a way out?

Experts such as medical manager Detlef Ganten and chief ethicist Alena Buyx will then discuss how the Berlin-Brandenburg health region is doing and which emotions and forces are evoked by cancer diagnoses. As in previous years, the night program from 11 p.m. will be performed by Christoph Markschies and chemist Helmut Schwarz with the actresses Corinna Kirchhoff and Alina Straehler. This time the readings will be about “joie de vivre and suffering from life”.

“Live is Life” was a 1984 hit by the Austrian band Opus, which can still be heard today. The theologian and historian Markschies confirms that the Salon title alludes to the party song. After all, the academy “would not consist of older men talking about older things at older tables.”

For “The Young Academy” under the umbrella of the BBAW, the counter-evidence is program anyway. In their salon project, however, the new members of the current year really let it rip: “Drinking, feasting, sinning” they want to do at three tables designed by an artist. In the first slot, starting at 7 p.m., ancient historian Christopher Degelmann, medievalist Racha Kirakosian and bioengineering expert David Labonte spear “the cultural, historical and problematic aspects of alcohol consumption”.

And there is another young academy on Gendarmenmarkt, the Arab-German Young Academy. Its members direct the audience’s attention to the intellectual diaspora in Berlin, which arose as a result of the failed popular uprisings in the “Arab Spring”. Curator and AGYA alumna Hanan Badr visualizes these “biographies in motion” as a paternoster performance – with portraits in the rotating booths as well as offers of discussion on migration, education, identity and art at the stations from the ground floor to the 5th floor.

A top-class panel is dedicated to the war in Ukraine: Eastern Europe historian Karl Schlögel, political scientist Gwendolyn Sasse and military historian Sönke Neitzel discuss “waking up to a new reality”. The key question is how Ukraine, but also Germany and Europe have changed in the past three months.

Anyone who can break away from the continuously played stages and from the binges and stroll through the house will discover much more in the corridors and behind countless doors. An exhibition on “Measuring the cell” by Rudolf Virchow and Robert Koch, Wilhelm von Humboldt’s life with Parkinson’s or artistic and scientific approaches to the Crispr gene scissors?

Christoph Markschies hopes to prompt questions like these among the guests of the evening: “Where does life evade measurement? What do lovers experience apart from an increased pulse intensity?” The Academy President does not want to reveal in advance what answers his group reading before midnight gives in the Leibniz Hall (the entire program can be found here).