MSB Educational Institute’s Literature Festival, 2019

A literature festival aims to celebrate literature of all kinds. Usually a number of notable authors, experts in their literary fields and members of the society who love expressing through the written word gather under one umbrella and share their thoughts and outlook on the prevalent literature in the society. These festivals are grand and are usually organized at city level.

So to have a literature festival in a school set up was a call which seemed a bit too ambitious. While on the contrary, if we delve deeper, an educational institute has more to do with literature and its enrichment than any other organization. Pioneering the concept of a literature festival in a school set up, MSB Shabbirabad against all odds took up the challenge and successfully excogitated eleven performances with eleven stages in eleven classrooms! There were four which covered the Urdu language and seven were presented in English Language. Each topic covered by the classes held a world of literature in its own.

The day initiated with our keynote speaker Mrs. Maryann Joy Dreas Sheikha* addressing the audience on the significance of literature and how it is an integral part of every culture, religion, society and tradition.

“Everyone relates to literature and interprets it in their own way, Shylock’s character in the Merchant of Venice would be interpreted by a nine year old in a different way in comparison to a nineteen year old, who would read the same play years later”, she commented while having an interactive session with the students on various forms of literature they come across on daily basis.

After a twenty minutes talk on literature by the keynote speaker, the Society of Scribblers MSB gave away the creative writing competition prizes to the six winners. Students from Badri High School and Agha Khan School had already been seated and at 9 AM sharp the festival formally began with our mascots dressed as characters from works of fiction led the esteemed guests to the venues of their choice.

On the ground floor the guests cherished satire which covered the famous story of Gulliver’s Travels and how the society is marred with bias, materialism and manipulation to meet its ends. The students of Class 10 A enacted the tale, exhibiting the flaws of the society using irony and sarcasm.

Literature can never be complete without the great Shakespeare. Students of 10 B interviewed Shakespeare asking him of his feelings and thoughts on his greatest literary work. The attire and persona created of the great Shakespeare won the hearts of the audience while they relished the play Hamlet enacted by the boys of the class.

The importance of drama was highlighted by Class 7B by enacting on the very important issue of social media and its implications on youth. Students created a theatrical ambience in the room which offered a very cinematic experience to the audience.

Enriching the content of the literature further, the history of Urdu was highlighted by students of 9B where they showcased the rich heritage of the Urdu language and its deep rooted connection with Persian and Arabic.

The world of Urdu further was embellished with the muhavraat ki Dunya where students of 7A delivered the Hyderabadi version of Urdu using interesting idioms of the Urdu Language.

The Jadeed Daur ka Iqbal was a much needed panel discussion which won the audience’s hearts as 8B took up their role as government officials discussing the current issues prevalent in the Pakistani government and the need to rectify the Pakistani set up and system.

Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn… English Literature is synonymous to its classical era where it generated masterpieces which the world relates to, to date. Students of 8A enacted the Victorian age with short interviews with these classical authors.

Poetry is the soul of literature, senior students of 10 SSC and 11 O Levels presented mushaiyyara with eloquence and confidence while the students of Class 9A took the ‘road not taken’ of the scenic realms of poetry with Robert Frost and other poets. They shared their own composed pieces, some amusing while others leaving a strong message.

Modern Literature has a lot to do with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Students of 6B shared exactly what Rowling’s journey of the Potter series was all about and how it emerged as the best form of storytelling of all times.

Folklore, myths and legends is an important constituent of literature and hence was covered animatedly by students of 6A. Their costumes and vivid delivery brought to life the mythical characters brilliantly.

The success of the festival could easily be measured from the fact that around ten schools, parents and other members of the community attended the festival, and where three performances from each classroom were planned, the students actually ended up performing a minimum of ten and a maximum of sixteen times in a single day!

The Literature Festival, 2019 of MSB aimed to provide an equal opportunity to every child of the school to perform to his/her best capacity, to develop confidence and eloquence. With every child involved, the experience and exposure to the children was substantial. Such events should be encouraged where grades and positions are not the primary agenda but learning and growth is. The reviews to the programme received were outstanding and the concept highly appreciated by various academicians.

Maryann Dreas-Shaikha
Maryann is an American teacher and the former Head of English and Assistant Headmistress at the Karachi Grammar School – Middle Section. She has a combined eight years’ experience in Karachi, Pakistan, and the Republic of Georgia, teaching English literature, creative writing, grammar, drama, elocution, debates, and Model United Nations, as well as training teachers in active learning and formative assessment philosophy and methodology. The highlight of her teaching experience was directing and producing four school plays – “Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe, the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”, a modern version of “The Merchant of Venice” by Shakespeare, and “Frankenstein” by Danny Boyle.

Maryann is pursuing a Master of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She is specializing in International Education Development.