Sulochana Dissanayake | Bates College Alumnae | Drama
Sulochana Dissanayake ’09 is a freelance artist engaged in theater-creation, HR training and education, based in Pita-Kotte, Sri Lanka. She graduated from Bates College, USA in May 2009 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Economics and Theater. Formally trained in acting, directing and play writing, she pursued internships to gain professional theater experience in leading American theaters/programmes. In 2007, she traveled to Hungary, Czech Republic and Austria to study ‘Central European Theatre and Film’ (offered by Bates College). She was selected as an Apprentice for the Williamstown Theater Festival 2007, one of the leading summer stock theaters in USA where she co-created an original ensemble piece Project:IDENTITY (WTF Workshop) which addressed issues of identity and self-awareness of actors. In summer 2008, she was selected for a Directing Internship at The Guthrie Theater – one of the top ten regional theaters of USA located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In fall 2008, she directed one of the 2 mainstage productions of Bates College – becoming one of the rare students to be awarded a position usually reserved for faculty.
Keen on discovering the uses of performing arts in addressing socially and economically relevant issues – both in and out of the work place – she travelled to South Africa and Indonesia on a Watson Fellowship 2009/10 (granted by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation for a year of travel and exploration to 40 graduates for their outstanding promise as members of the world community) and studied practical uses of theater in addressing issues of self and others. In South Africa she worked with UBOM! – a developmental theatre company and FTH;K – a visual/non-verbal theatre that integrates deaf and hearing performers – examining original creations and the multi purposes of theatre beyond entertainment. In Indonesia, she worked with internationally acclaimed artists who combined ancient traditions of puppetry to create contemporary performances that delights local and foreign audiences by retaining a unique cultural identity.
Back in Sri Lanka for the foreseeable future, her goal is to advance performing arts (theater and puppetry) as a dynamic mode of communication, training and development – integrating traditions and communities of Sri Lanka to highlight issues integral to modern lives. She trains and performs in educational institutes and corporate organizations while producing original works.
“Bates helped me discover who I am in a professional context. I found my own feet and gained skills to complement my confidence… [I thank] every single faculty and staff in the Theater & Dance department (I mean every single one) for I would NOT be where I am if not for the combined efforts of all of them!” Sulochana Dissanayake ’09