With the first edition taking place in the grounds of the British Council, this year saw the fourth and biggest ever edition of the Hay Festival in Dhaka. As the festival’s global partner, the British Council helps put together the festival by not only bring UK talent to Bangladesh, but also by engaging local artists and students in events and workshops and helping them grow in their art.
This year, the British Council in Bangladesh brought 3 delegates from the UK, each an expert and well-known figure in their respective art form. Our delegates were Sabrina Mahfouz, an award winning playwright and performance poet; Katie Green, a published author, illustrator and graphic novelist; and Mirza Waheed, novelist and columnist. Together, they have participated in 4 sessions at the Hay Festival, covering a wide range of topics and art forms, from performance poetry to visual storytelling. Katie Greene was with Joelle Jolivet in the session, ‘Graphic words’; Sabrina Mahfouz performed alongside with 3 other poets on the lawn to a full house and also joined TJ Dema and Shamsad Mortuza in the session, ‘Performing Poets; and Mirza Waheed discussed his novels with Alex Clark in the session, ‘The Book of Gold Leaves’.
As well as their sessions, Katie and Sabrina also ran workshops in Dhaka and Chittagong on performance poetry and visual storytelling. Katie ran two workshops in Chittagong for two age-groups on graphic storytelling along with Nuhash Humayun, a local, talented graphic artist British Council Bangladesh has been working with and nurturing for a year now. She also ran a workshop in Dhaka within the British Council Resource Centre, along with some of the biggest names in the contemporary cartooning and comic scene, discussing her book, storyboarding and the graphic storytelling scene in the UK with the participants. Sabrina Mahfouz ran workshops in Dhaka and Chittagong on performance poetry, working with students and writers of different ages and experiences.
All in all, British Council not only added to the literary celebrations of the Hay Festival within the Bangla Academy, but also travelled much farther and beyond the festival with our artists and the art to widen involvement and make a bigger difference.