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Sulochana Dissanayake ’09, Artist

The Power Supply. Making art—and making a life—at the crossroads

Why is your work important to you?

“I think the performing arts are the most powerful form of human communication. They have an immense potential for bringing people together—which is vital in a country like Sri Lanka, where we’re constantly negotiating our own identities. Sri Lanka is at a crossroads. Artists can play a big role in building a progressive future here.”

What work does a freelance artist do?

“The AIDS Foundation of Lanka commissioned me to create a performance for World AIDS Day. The U.S. Embassy invited me to create a piece for the opening of a library in Jaffna city—and now it’s funding a tour. I directed a show with 150 boys at the Royal College, the largest primary and secondary school in Asia. Those are a few things I’ve done in the year since I’ve been back in Sri Lanka.”

How did Bates prepare you for that life?

“Bates taught me how to think—how to analyze a situation and reach my own conclusions about it—and how to write. Those two skills are responsible for setting up my career. They look small on paper, but they affect everything I do—everything I can imagine doing.”


Sulochana Dissanayake ’09 is an artist in Pita Kotte (Colombo), Sri Lanka. At Bates she double-majored in economics and theater, directed nine productions, interned at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and apprenticed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.


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