The London Borough of Tower Hamlets, in association with School of Drama, Queens Mary University hosts a cultural festival every year, titled ‘A Season of Bangla Drama’. This festival has been celebrating the Bengali culture, in the form of enthralling performances and discussions from a diversified panel of writers, actors, directors and cultural personalities, since 2003. The platform creates an opportunity for UK based audiences to learn more about Bengali culture. This year, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the festival was organised online, and the collaboration partner from Bangladesh was Reflective Teens.
This creative writing project titled ‘Sabalok golpo – Everyone’s story’ was a unique opportunity for young people from the U.K and Bangladesh to collaborate in a series of workshops, to develop their creative ideas and engage in an exchange of ideas and viewpoints around the theme of ‘Coming of Age’.
The group of young people were asked to create a piece of creative writing with formats such as Spoken Word, Poetry etc. of 3-5 minutes each. The two groups from the UK and Bangladesh consisted of 5 young people in each one. On 15th November, all those pieces created by the young people were displayed by a public event hosted on Facebook. The teenagers created dramas, short stories, articles etc. centring the theme ‘Coming of Age’. While the teenagers described what coming of age looks like to them, most of them portrayed the struggles and fears many of them faces while growing up from a child to an adult, and also what makes it interesting. The contents ranged from experiences of growing up in a world of gender inequalities, social ills like child marriages and state failures, responsibilities bestowed after being an adult and the maturity that comes with it. The participants filmed their works, and excellent acting and depiction skills were also seen in some of the performances. An enthusiastic bunch of audience from both UK and Bangladesh were present in the session, and the audience expressed their admiration for the works of those young adults and asked questions based on the pieces that were displayed which were answered by the participants later on. Miss Rokhshana Khan was the collaborator from the UK, and Yusuf Munna, CEO of Reflective Teens, was the one from Bangladesh for the whole programme.