LEWISTON — A Bates College alumna who used her 2009 Watson Fellowship to study performance arts in South Africa and Indonesia will return to discuss her experiences at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, in the college’s Benjamin Mays Center, 95 Russell St.

An information session about applying for the Watson will follow.

Sulochana Dissanayake of Pita Kotte, Sri Lanka, was one of 40 recipients of the 2009 fellowship, a $28,000 award supporting a year of independent research abroad. Driven by her ultimate goal of creating a Sri Lankan theater company and school that will examine her own country’s social and political issues, Dissanayake used her Watson year to study performance traditions in Indonesia and contemporary theater companies in South Africa.

Entranced by performing since she was a toddler, Dissanayake received the Watson at the end of a remarkable Bates career. She was one of the rare first-year students to direct a production by the student-run Robinson Players, and as a senior directed one of the college’s two annual mainstage productions, a responsibility usually undertaken by a professor of theater. All told, Dissanayake directed nine productions at Bates.

In addition, during summer 2008 she was a directing intern at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and during the previous summer apprenticed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.

Dissanayake double-majored in theater and economics.

The Thomas J. Watson Foundation was created in 1961 by Mrs. Thomas J. Watson Sr. in honor of her late husband, the founder of International Business Machines Corp., widely known as IBM. At least one Bates senior or graduate received a Watson Fellowship every year from 1985 through 2000, in 2002 and 2003, and from 2006 through 2009.


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