Ashley Shoptorshi Samaddar
The quality of student life is often determined by extra-curricular activities and when a group of young students sit together to develop their creative writing skills, it surely feels like the cherry on top. In order to engage the youth of the country in creative and productive activities, Notre Dame University Bangladesh English Club (NDUBEC) organised a day-long workshop on July 21, 2018.
To make the workshop more interesting and inclusive for students with various arenas of interest, the day was divided into three full interactive sessions open for students from other institutions too — Screenplay Writing, Literary Writing and Graphic Storytelling.
The workshop began at 11am and the first session was titled ‘Screenplay Writing’ which was conducted by the co-moderator of NDUBEC, Ahmed Tahsin Shams, who is also a faculty at the Department of English, NDUB. Shams is also a journalist and the Director of Avant-garde Productions.
He began the session with a handful of themes — gender, class conflict, social media, youth, self, and relationship. The students were teamed up into seven groups according to their themes and the rest of the workshop focused on the journey from concept to script, highlighting various screenplay narrative techniques and theories.
Seven ‘out of the box’ scripts were generated on the spot and the script writers were awarded by a surprise from Shams. He announced all the scripts were highly potential. He also mentioned, “Avant-garde Productions is going to fund all the 7 scripts produced today by the 7 teams because all stood unique and creative.”
This session was followed by a lunch break and soon the participants were geared up for the next session on ‘Literary Writing’ which was conducted by Theotonius Gomes, Assistant Professor, Department of English, American International University-Bangladesh (AIUB). He is also a poet who won the title of ‘Dhaka University Champion’ in English poetry recitation in 2003.
Gomes began the session with a meditation exercise so that participants can continue brain storming for a long time. Afterwards he asked the participants to imagine their favourite flower — to smell it, to see its colour, to touch it. Soon the participants started to work along with him and suddenly bouquets of tender yet fresh and promising creative outputs were delivered. At the end of his session, Gomes said, “The best stories and poems of this session will be published in esteemed English dailies and you are about to become writers!”
The final session on ‘Graphic Storytelling’ was set in motion at 5pm in the evening which was conducted by Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy who is a cartoonist by day and a comic book artist by night. He also works as Associate Editor of the satirical magazine ‘Unmad’. He is one of the founder members of Bangladesh Cartoonists’ Association and has also founded ‘Cartoon People’ — a community for young visual storytellers.
Through creating ideas into lines, and lines to forms, Tanmoy wished to continue narrating graphic stories of local context in a way which was never told before. Apart from showing some video clips of international comic strip, he gave the participants pens with papers with which they drew meaningful messes. He concluded the session by saying, “With great cartoons, come great awakenings! I hope you will keep trying until your eyes are finally open to see the world through the lenses of a cartoonist!”
The day ended with a ceremony where Fr Patrick F Gaffney, Vice Chancellor, NDUB shared his delight and content with the students and participants. He also presented certificates and thanksgiving flowers to the speakers and guests. This was followed by a certificate distribution for the participants by Fr Adam S Pereira, Registrar, NDUB, who ended the workshop with a vote of thanks.
The writer is a student of Notre Dame University Bangladesh (NDUB)