Current Research Interests 

1. I am interested in the concepts of absence in theatre as well as visual representation of language in design.

2. In parallel to the first project, I continuously develop my understanding of Butō, Kabuki, Nō, and Kumiodori theatre.

Independent Research Projects

Okinawa Research Group: Research project about Kumiodori theatre – with Dr Szymon Gredżuk.

Monograph, Research Project 2021. Performance of Absence is a research project based on my PhD research in Theatre Studies. Forthcoming Publication by Routledge.

Performing Poetry, Research Project 2017 – 2019Performing Poetry is my current research project at Meio University, Japan. During this project I look for practical methods to physically engage students in active representation of poetry.

Online Learning, Course Design 2018. This is my action research project in pedagogy. I designed an online course as a component of my Intercultural Communication module at Meio University. I am interested in the use of technology in higher education, in particular the role of online learning in enhancement of reading skills.

Justitia, Publication. Research Project 2013 – 2016. I look into the connections between creative book design and performance documentation, the practical aspect of this research can be seen in my recent co-edited book Justitia: Multidisciplinary Readings of the Work of Jasmin Vardimon Company, published in August 2016 in Bristol and Chicago by Intellect Books Ltd.

Degree Research Projects

PhD Research in Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway University of London, the United Kingdom (2015).Ontology of Absence is a research project that finds concepts of absence in theory and practice across the disciplines of Theatre Studies.

My doctoral dissertation examines what absence is and how it works in a performance. I study the paradox of representation, whereby absence is never absent and presence is not present. I have named this using the oxymoron present absence.

In my research I question the dualistic philosophy which defines a sign as a relationship between a signifier (a thing) and a certain signified (its meaning), and I look for another interpretation of absence in performance. I use Jacques Derrida’s philosophy and survey various theories in theatre studies, which define limits of presence and absence. I do not agree with all of them, but they provide important and different perspectives on the question of absence.

These theoretical perspectives on presence and absence are applied to a number of examples of visual culture drawn from theatre, performance and art. A structure of visual representation is studied as writing. I refer to Derrida’s theory of arche-writing, which is a non-linear form of writing that does not rely on defining being as presence. Present absence is studied through linguistic theory and tested in the three-dimensional space of performance. My research provides an alternative account of the mode of reading the notion of absence in performance.

Master by Research in Design at Goldsmiths University of London, the United Kingdom (2010). Graduated with distinction; dissertation title: Performativity of Absence.

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Theatre Studies at University of Wolverhampton, the United Kingdom (2009). Graduated with First Class Honours, dissertation title: PerFormArt: hybridity in contemporary visual arts.

Publications and Conferences 

Dobkowska, Sylwia. ‘Kosmopolis – The Between.Pomiędzy Festival of Literature and Theatre.’ The Theatre Times, 2020.

Dobkowska, Sylwia and Szymon Gredżuk. ‘Okinawa Research Group – Kumiodori.’ 101 lat relacji polsko-japońskich. Perspektywy, działania, więzi. Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha, Kraków, Poland. 27-28 February 2020. (27 February 2020)

Dobkowska, Sylwia and Meghan Kuckelman Beverage. ‘Physical Poetry: Using Japanese Butō in an EFL Poetry Performance Project.’ English in Education. 2019 (Forthcoming in Spring 2020).

Dobkowska, Sylwia and Paul Johnson Eds. Justitia: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the work of Jasmin Vardimon Company. Bristol: Intellect Books Inc. August 2016.

In this independent research project I worked together with Dr Paul Johnson as a co-editor. The book was initiated following a conference on Jasmin Vardimon Company. As a designer and co-editor, I look into innovative ways of displaying non-chronological order of events in performance through the use of materials with varied opacity, such as tracing paper. This material allows reading through multiple layers of paper, as well as dividing one line into multiple physical pages. I look at the process of turning page as an element of book performance. Details in design present ideas, such as merging text and performance is presented on the front page through stage directions written in the beams of light (detail more visible on a printed copy).


Dobkowska, Sylwia. Performative Absence as Exchange of Signifiers. Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA). University of Glasgow and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow, the United Kingdom. 4-6 September 2013.

Dobkowska, Sylwia. Present Absence in Theatre. Postgraduate Pioneers. Royal Holloway, University of London, London, United Kingdom. 23-24 June 2013.

Dobkowska, Sylwia, Stacey Pitsillides and Duncan Fairfax.‘Immortal “Brand Me” Identity Immersion in a Digital Space.’ Making Believe: Goldsmiths Postgraduate Exhibition Catalogue 2010. 56-70.