Literature on Stage engages high school students
Students eagerly taking notes.

THE School of Continuing Education and Allied Programmes continued their initiative to make literature more accessible for students sitting Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) exams with its Literature on Stage initiative with two workshops at the end of April.

This was the second year of the Literature on Stage workshop for students preparing to sit external examinations, organised by the college. The event was first staged in 2019 but had to be put on pause in the succeeding years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director of the School of Continuing Education & Allied Programmes Leighton Jones noted this year's staging met the stated objectives with over 400 students in attendance from a total of 13 schools. Among the schools which attended were Marymount High, Cedar Grove Academy, Excelsior High, Aberdeen High, Merl Grove High, Bustamante High, Roger Clarke High, and Clan Carthy High.

Jones further shared that for the first staging back in 2019, teachers of English literature who were canvassed noted that students were having the greatest difficulty with Shakespeare's works and that year The Tempest was chosen.

Third and fourth-year students from the School of Drama at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts dramatise Once Upon a Time by Gabriel Okara.

"It was that level of consultation which made us explore poetry this year. This feedback is ongoing and truly informs what we do. Next year we will look at Anancy. The venue for next year's workshop is also being discussed. Although we love bringing students onto the Edna Manley College campus, we are examining the possibility of taking it to the students in the various regions. This would allow us to share the product with a much wider audience than we can facilitate here at the college," said Jones.

For the workshops, poetry texts were dramatised with the able assistance of third and fourth-year drama in education students from the School of Drama. This year's sessions featured three works of poetry — Little Boy Crying by Mervyn Morris, Death Be Not Proud by John Donne, and Once Upon A Time by Gabriel Okara — which were brought to life on stage to assist the students.

Through this creative approach, students are encouraged to identify tone, mood, the literary devices being used, themes, persona and point of view, symbolism as well as the historical/political context in which the work has been set, based on the visuals presented on stage.

An engaging discussion segment followed each dramatic performance in which students shared their points of view and perspectives and provided justification for their responses and counter responses.

Latiana Reese and Natoya Harrison, two participants from Marymount High School in St Mary, found the workshop extremely novel and beneficial. They shared that the workshop would help them understand the texts, and that they will take this experience with them as they move forward into their upcoming external exams.

"We learned some interesting techniques and ways to interpret the poets that we are studying. A lot of these we can apply during the exam to help us decode the meaning and what the poem is saying. We also learned how to apply drama to literature to further our understanding of the text," said Harrison.

For teacher of English language and literature Sasheika Rhudd, who accompanied her grade 10 students from Clan Carthy High School, the workshop provided her students with a visual context of the pieces of poetry, something she is confident will greatly assist them as they prepare for the exams. Rhudd implored other teachers in high schools across Jamaica to have their students participate in future Literature on Stage workshops organised by the Edna Manley College and noted that this can only prove to be beneficial.

"Encourage your students to be part of this production. It is very informative, it is very engaging, and the students can see a visual presentation of the poem. As we know as teachers, some poems can be very mundane and can be monotonous. But when you have the students here at Edna Manley doing a piece and bring those poems to life, it will be ingrained into the minds of our students. This is an experience," Rhudd noted.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at


  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Which long-term investment option is more attractive to you at the moment?