Pickles in Dhaka University
It was a chilly Friday morning and a dense fog swaddled the Dhaka university campus. That however did not stop fifteen up-and-coming writers and six members of Brine Pickles to come to DU campus to be part of a workshop on Creative Writing and Performance Literature.
Brine Pickles, is the first English language based 'performance literature' group in Bangladesh. The writers are performers as well, and fuse creative writing with theatrical elements and present social issues to a large audience both at home and abroad. Many of the present 'Pickles' also write in Bangla and/or are involved in translation. The prime objectives of the group are to promote creative writing in English, Bangla, translation and performance literature. Recently Brine Pickles has won An American Center Grant, and these workshops are organised with association with The American Centre.
courtesy: Brine Pickles
This workshop was intended to provide a platform for those English creative writers who want to share their writings and be part of a community that shares similar interest in writing and performance. Opportunities of this kind do not come to writers as frequently, thus this workshop was one of its kinds.
Fifteen writers, between, the age of 18-28, were selected from an application pool of 78 submissions. The day started with an ice breaking session. The participants were asked to say something that appealed to them about the person standing on their right. They were then asked to take out something out of their pocket and share with rest of the group what that possession meant to them.
The first session was entitled 'The Love Game'. It was focused on using cliché like 'love' in a poem and presenting it with a thematic twist. They were asked to answer “What do you give your loved one as a gift?” One gave time old classy rose, and one gave her ears to her loved one to be listened to anytime anywhere in the form of poetries. Writers were welcomed to share their thoughts in writing with the group to the extent that they felt comfortable. The session was conducted by Maherin Ahmed, a member and Hasan Ameen, coordinator of Brine Pickles.
The next session, called “The Name Game”, was about using names, and how it shapes one's identity as it sticks to them in different shapes and forms. The point of this session was to make the participants realise that there is so much we can deduce from our names: stories, background stories of those stories, and above everything else, what it means to our own selves. The session was conducted by Theotonius Gomes, Senior Lecturer, Eastern University.
The next session, conducted by Sabrina Binte Masud, Assistant Professor, Eastern University, was called “Locating Time”. In this session the Dhaka University campus itself became a drawing board. Five historical locations of the Campus like, the Madhu'r Canteen, Dacsu, Mall Chattar, the wall of the Department of English dedicated to Dr Jyotirmoy Guha Thakurta and Aparajayo Bangla became the point of inspiration for this exercise. Writers were divided in groups to visit and learn about places of historical importance.
The final writing and performing session was an extension of the previous session. The writers were asked to create characters out of the materials gathered right then in a short time. This resulted in skits dramatised by the participants on the spur of the moment giving life to their creations through performance.
The workshop concluded with a certificate giving ceremony presided over by Professor Fakrul Alam from the Department of English, University of Dhaka, who is one of the mentors of Brine Pickles ever since its inception. Dr Alam in his speech urged the need for thorough research and familiarisation with the literature of the language the writer wants to focus on.
The next workshop will take place in Dhaka in April 2012, with a few selected writers/performers chosen from this Dhaka workshop and the earlier workshop that took place in Chittagong. The final workshop in April is to be conducted by Dr Niaz Zaman, Dr Kaiser Haq and Dr Christopher Merrill from the University of Iowa. The best writings from all three workshops will be published in an anthology.