Current Research Interests 

1. I am interested in the concepts of absence in theatre as well as visual representation of language in design. I currently work on a monograph about the subject of absence in theatre, performance and visual art. Absence as a gap between the perceived and known has a creative potential in arts. In my research, I move beyond European theatre to find intercultural representation of absence. Performance of Absence in Theatre, Performance and Visual Art is contracted by Routledge and planned to be published in 2021.

2. In parallel to the first project, I continuously develop my understanding of Butō, Kabuki, Nō, and Kumiodori theatre. Together with Dr Szymon Gredżuk and the Okinawa Research Group: we research Okinawan Theatre, a subject which is completely absent in the Polish academia. We recently published the first article in Polish about Kumiodori:

3. Alongside the above-mentioned projects, I collaborate with Dr Meghan Kuckelman Beverage from Meio University in Japan to address the gap in creative language learning. We make a course book that joins poetry and performance, a book for creative English language learners at a university level. The project developed from the idea that a foreign language needs to be felt and experienced through the senses in order to be loved and appreciated.

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.


Dobkowska, Sylwia. ‘Separate Yet Together: The Twelfth International Between.Pomiędzy Festival of Literature and Theatre.’ The Theatre Times, 2021.

Gredżuk, Szymon and Sylwia Dobkowska. ‘Kumiodori – teatr królestwa Riukiu.’ Didaskalia, 161, 2021.

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

Dobkowska, Sylwia and Meghan Kuckelman Beverage. ‘Physical Poetry: Using Japanese Butō in an EFL Poetry Performance Project.’ English in Education, Issue 1, Volume 54, 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, Stacey Pitsillides and Duncan Fairfax.‘Immortal “Brand Me” Identity Immersion in a Digital Space.’ Making Believe: Goldsmiths Postgraduate Exhibition Catalogue 2010. 56-70.

Conference Papers

Dobkowska, Sylwia and Szymon Gredżuk. ‘Przekład kulturowy: Teatr w Japonii.’ Between Edukacja Kosmopolis 2020, Webinar. (22 October 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 Szymon Gredżuk. ‘Kumiodori – 300 Anniversary of Theatre from Okinawa. Connections.’  Between the word, the sound and the image: A Centenary of Polish-Japanese Diplomatic Relations. Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. 4-5 December 2019. (5 December 2019)

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

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

Awards and Research Grants

2021  Research Grant from University of Gdańsk in Poland. UGrants First grant for the research project: Absent Theatre – Okinawan Kumiodori Theatre.

2013  Research Grant from Royal Holloway University of London: Recipient of funding to present paper entitled ‘Performative Absence as Exchange of Signifiers’ at TaPRA Conference in Glasgow, the United Kingdom.

2010 – 2013  PhD Research Scholarship from Royal Holloway University of London.

2010 – 2013  PhD Maintenance Scholarship from Royal Holloway University of London.

2009  Highest Grades Award from University of Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom: Recipient of Highest Classification Award in Drama Department in the academic year 2009.

2006 – 2007  Experience Award from Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton: Recipient of Experience Award to conduct one year internship in theatre as Theatre Technician Assistant.

2005 – 2006  Project Grant from the European Commission, Brussels: Recipient of a grant from Youth in Action Programme awarded for a performance art project.