This jewel among cabaret theatres has resided on Mehringdamm in Kreuzberg since 1988. The Berliner Kabarett Anstalt (The Berlin Cabaret Institute), BKA Theatre for short or, as Berliners simply say: BKA. A handful of cabaret artists calling themselves CaDeWe (Cabaret des Westens - Cabaret of the West), on tour throughout West Germany between 1978 and 1985 with cheeky political musical cabaret shows, re-formed and called themselves The Dispossessed. This group was looking for a permanent home and moved into the top floor of a prominent old department store at Mehringdamm 34 and built a theatre out of the legendary Diskothek Dachluke (Skylight Discotheque).
Today the BKA presents cabaret, comedy, entertainment shows, improvised theatre, concerts, singer-songwriters and crazy musicals. There are daily English language theatre matinées for children and every Tuesday evening Germany's only weekly concert series for contemporary music, Unerhörte Musik or Unheard of Music. The theatre is active almost 365 days a year.
With a sharp tongue and self-irony, the founders labelled their own theatre the Berlin Cabaret Institute which might be slightly confusing but certainly draws people in. Today, alongside the house group Ades Zabel & Company, there are regular visits by established cabaret artists as well as from the upcoming generation which finds a platform here. Some of the BKA's trademark anarchistic ideas have landed them in hot water, such as the entrance tickets that got into circulation that looked like public transport tickets and were being used as such.
At its high point, there were two venues: the BKA Theatre in Kreuzberg and the BKA Tent in the Kulturforum at Potsdamer Platz. Later there was the BKA-Luftschloss (Castle in the Air) on Schlossplatz in the middle of Berlin. In 2004 the Berliner Kabarett Anstalt withdrew back to its home on Mehringdamm. The BKA team, under the leadership of Rainer Rubbert and Uwe Berger since 2012, has applied itself to maintaining one of the most established cabaret venues in Berlin and doing so without state subsidies. In August 2013 the BKA in Mehringdamm celebrated the 25th anniversary of its foundation with a large festival.