May 8, 2003
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.- Megan Christine Lau, a senior at Amherst College, has been awarded a J. William Fulbright Fellowship for postgraduate study in Japan. Lau will study traditional Japanese theater in Osaka. Lau is the daughter of Wanda and Willis Lau of Agoura Hills, Calif.
In her application, Lau wrote "the audience is as much a part of Japanese theater as the actors." The spectators are "unabashed at arriving late, eating and talking loudly, or snoring soundly." This traditional "rudeness" makes a performance in Japan unique: "To experience Japanese theater fully is to watch a play with a Japanese audience."
Lau plans to read English and modern Japanese translations of traditional works, and eventually to write a translation, an adaptation or a new play on her own. She also will continue her study of the Japanese language as she reads newspaper reviews and discusses plays and performances with theatergoers. Osaka University, within play-going distance of Tokyo and Kyoto, is one of the few universities in Japan where Japanese theater is studied formally.
Lau, a math and English major at Amherst, received the Denis Johnston Playwriting Prize and the James Baldwin Playwriting Award for her work. She was one of the founders of Amherst Group Theatre, a student troupe. Lau also won the Porter Prize in Astronomy and has been president and secretary of the Asian Culture House.
Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946 to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges. Senator J. William Fulbright, sponsor of the legislation, viewed scholarship as an alternative to armed conflict. Today the Fulbright Program, the federal government's premier scholarship program, funded by an annual congressional appropriation and contributions from other participating countries, allows Americans to study or conduct research in over 100 nations.
Lau is one of five Amherst seniors who received Fulbright grants this year.