June 25, 1998

Middlebury College Graduate Michael P. Doyle Awarded Watson Fellowship

Middlebury College graduate Michael P. Doyle, son of Patricia and Brendan J. Doyle of Westfield, N.J., has been awarded the 1998 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Two of Doyle's classmates at the Vermont liberal arts college have also gained distinction-Watson Fellowships were awarded to graduate Timothy P. Bartlett of Ridgefield, Conn., and graduate Shruthi Mahalingaiah of Southbury, Conn.

Watson Fellows are chosen in a two-step process that requires nomination from one of the participating 51 top liberal arts colleges in America, followed by a national competition. After more than 1,000 students applied to the first round of selection, 60 Watson Fellows were chosen from 193 candidates, the largest nominee pool in six years. Each student will receive $19,000 to travel outside the United States and explore a topic of his or her own choosing.

A Theatre major who graduated in May, Doyle will leave in August to spend a full year traveling in Poland, Romania, and Lithuania studying eastern European theatre in post-communistic societies. "The Fellowship," said Doyle, "gives me the opportunity to study and record the effects of post-communism on modern theatre style that originated under communism."

"The timing couldn't be better," he said, "because acting styles are getting westernized so quickly. Under communism, another form of acting was needed that was more physical because language was highly censored. Actors expressed themselves through their movements, rather than words."

Doyle's goal is to document this form of theatrical performance and consider how it might be applied to American theatre. He plans to conduct interviews and record acting techniques. His preparation includes studying Romanian language and contacting theatre companies about seeing productions and observing rehearsals.

Doyle's interest in the subject developed through his theatre studies at Middlebury in modern theatre in Eastern Europe, and were further stimulated by a visit to Eastern Europe in 1997.

The Watson Fellowship Program was begun in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Jr., the founder of IBM, and his wife, Jeannette K. Watson, to honor their parents' long-standing interest in education and world affairs. The Thomas J. Watson Foundation selects students based upon each nominee's character, leadership potential, willingness to delve into another culture, and the personal significance of the proposed project. "When we speak to prospective applicants for Watson Fellowships," said Noreen Tuross, the foundation's executive director, "we ask, 'What would you do if you could do anything for a year?' Watson Fellows respond with serious, creative proposals."