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Professor Silvija Jestrovic

Silvija JestrovicProfessor of Theatre and Performance

Tel: +44 (0)24 765 73100
Email: s dot jestrovic at warwick dot ac dot uk

Faculty of Arts Building
University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7HS


Silvija Jestrovic studied playwriting and dramaturgy at the University of Belgrade (1989–1992) and completed her postgraduate studies at the University of Toronto in 2002. From 1990 to 1996 she worked as a freelance playwright, dramaturge and television journalist. Before coming to Warwick in 2005, Silvija was SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow and lecturer at York University in Toronto. Whilst at Warwick she has designed modules that address her interest in performance and exile, avant-garde theatre, playwriting, and theatre and performance theory. She also has a special interest in the interdisciplinary and collaborative research and teaching. This is reflected through her on-going international partnership with colleagues from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (India) and University of Arts Belgrade (Serbia) among others, and in her work with the Warwick Politics and Performance Network.

Her publications include Performances of Authorial Presence and Absence: The Author Dies Hard (Palgrave 2020), Performance, Space, Utopia: Cities of War, Cities of Exile (Palgrave 2012), Theatre of Estrangement: Theory, Practice, Ideology (University of Toronto Press 2006), Performance, Exile, 'America' (co-edited with Yana Meerzon, Palgrave 2009), Performing Worksites of the Left (special issue of Studies in Theatre and Performance, co-edited with Ameet Parameswaram, 2019), the Oxford Handbook in Politics and Performance (co-edited with Shirin Rai, Milija Gluhovic and Michael Saward; forthcoming in December 2020), as well as numerous articles and book chapter.

Past research projects include Gender Citizenship: Manifestations and Performance (UKIERI funded 2013-2016; co-I) and Cultures of the Left (British Academy funded 2016-2019, PI):

She is senior editor of Theatre Research International journal.

Current project: ‘Whose Freedom? Dramaturgies of Freedom and the Aesthetic of Solidarity’

Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship

Research interests

  • Exilic theatre and performance, citizesnhip, gender and labour migration
  • Contemporary urban and political performances
  • Cultures of the Left
  • Politics and Performance
  • Avant-garde theatre and performance
  • Performance, theatre, and culture of the Balkans
  • Performance analysis
  • Language and intertextuality in drama and performance
  • Writing for performance

My research in performance and exile has been ongoing since 2003 when I co-organised the International Conference on Theatre and Exile (University of Toronto) and co-edited the special issues of Modern Drama on this subject. Ever since, I have written on exile extensively that includes essays ‘Performing Like an Asylum Seeker: Paradoxes of Hyper-Authenticity’ (RIDE, 2008; re-printed in C. Bishop’s 'Double Agent' ICA, 2009; in 'European Theatre Practices 1900 to Present' eds. N. Holdsworth and G. Willcocks, Ashgate, 2014; and translated into Serbian for Teatron, 2013), 'The Maid Vanishes' (Lateral 2016), and ‘Murderous Maids: Reading Contemporary Migrant Domestic Labour Through Genet’s ‘Maids’' (in Gendered Citizenship, Palgrave 2016) and the co-edited monograph (with Y. Meerzon) Performance, Exile, ‘America’ (Palgrave, 2009). In 2018 I gave a keynote talk on this subject 'The Eternal Emigrant ant the Aesthetic of Solidarity' at the International Federation of Theatre Research World Congress in Belgrade.

I have explored issues of exile, performance of resistance and the city in my monograph Performance, Space, Utopia: Cities of War, Cities of Exile (Palgrave 2012), which marks my intellectual and political engagement with performance practices in Belgrade and Sarajevo during the political upheaval and war in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and beyond. My interest in cities has been further reflected in essays such as “Sarajevo: The World City Under Siege” (Performance and the Global City, eds. K. Solga and T.J Hopkins 2013), “Performing Belgrade: Itineraries of Non-Belonging” (Performing Cities, ed. N. Whybrow 2014), “Theatricality vs. Bare Life” (Grammar of Politics and Performance, eds. S. Rai and J. Reinelt, 2014), etc.

My interest in politics and performance is explored in the essays 'Born in YU: Performing, Negotiating and Transforming an Abject Identity' (Theatre and National Identity, ed. N. Holdsworth, Routledge, 2014) and i ‘Bringing the Left Back: radical performances of dissent from the remains of ex-Yugoslavia’ (Studies in Theatre and Performance, 2019) and most notably through the British Academy funded Partnership and Mobility Project 'Cultures of the Left' in collaboration with colleagues from JNU (New Delhi). In 2019, I have co-editing with Dr Ameet Parameswaram (JNU) the special issue for Studies in Theatre and Performance ‘Performing Worksites of the Left’ and co-organised the conference 'Cultures of the Left in the Age of Right-Wing Populism' (Venice, 2019). I am also part of the editorial team, with S. Rai, M. Saward and M. Gluhovic, of the Oxford Handbook of Politics and Performance (OUP 2020).

My research interest in the avant-garde and in theatre theory has resulted in the book Theatre of Estrangement: Theory, Practice, Ideology (University of Toronto Press, 2006) that focuses on the notion of making the familiar strange in Russian Formalism, Russian avant-garde and in Brecht. Building on some aspects of this research, my latest monograph Performances of Authorial Presence and Absence: The Author Dies Hard (Palgrave 2020) explores the theatricality of authorial presence and absence from intertext to censorship.

My interest in playwriting is reflected in articles such as 'Playwright between Languages', 'Nomadski jezik', collaborative projects such as Languages at Play Colloquium (with Italian Department, Warwick 2008), in my teaching, and above all in my practical work including stage and radio plays Lotta Lanya: Cabaret New Europe, This Dance is for the Ladies, Noahs Ark 747, Not My Story and others.

On study leave:

September 2023-2026