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Friddle Granted Watson Fellowship to Travel the World

Matthew Jones Friddle was named as Berea’s seventeenth consecutive Watson fellow, for his proposal “Exploring the possibilities of performance arts in small communities.” As part of the one-year project, Friddle will travel to Ireland, Scotland, Australia and Canada to learn and participate in dance music and accompanying dances in local venues.

Jonas Friddle

During his time at Berea, Friddle has been active in the Theater Laboratory, the Bluegrass Ensemble, and the John GoodFriddle Theater Co., a joint company produced with his friends, Clay Goodpasture and Greg Johns. With the establishment of the three-member theatre, Friddle and his friends were able to help the community by providing help for middle school productions, running workshops and providing entertainment for the college hotel. This was enough for Friddle to want to embark in a community driven project. “I discovered that even in my own small community, there are needs a local theater company can fulfill. Theater, like music, is a tool that can strengthen a small community,” he comments.

Friddle will conduct his project through interaction with music and dance performers in Ireland, Scotland, Australia and Canada. “My desire to contribute to community performances rather than just observe them influenced my decision to select English-speaking communities for my experience,” he said.

In completing his project, Friddle hopes to gain a better understanding of roles that performing arts plays in communities around the world. “My undergraduate education at Berea College often pushed me to examine the role of my community in my life, both in its formation and present state…. I also wish to learn how communities in these countries express themselves and their stories through both ballads and theatrical productions.”

The Watson Fellowship was founded by Jeannette K. Watson in honor her late husband and founder of International Business Machines Corp., Thomas J. Watson. In the early years, the foundation used its resources in support of a variety of programs, such as education and world affairs.

Each year, the Watson Foundation awards more than 50 recipients from around the world. Each recipient of the Watson Fellowship will be granted for $22,000, including a supplement to the stipend in the amount equal to twelve months of payments of eligible outstanding federally guaranteed and institutional student loans.

For more information on the Watson Fellowship, contact Suzi Kifer at, or visit the Watson Fellowship web site.

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