Vesna Stanojevic, BA

Job title

Senior Lecturer, Acting

Profile

My acting career encompasses a wide variety of leading roles in theatre productions, feature films, television series and musicals. I have worked in Europe, The Balkans, Russia, the UK and the US and have taught at Central since 2006 where I am now a Senior Lecturer.   

I studied the Stanislavski Acting Method (BA) at The Belgrade University of Dramatic Arts from 1984–1988, and the Acting Technique of Étienne Decroux at the École de Mime Corporel Dramatique (MA) in London 1998–2001. The method I now teach at Central draws on and blends each of these approaches and the approach of the late Professor Bruce Kirle who was my mentor in Acting for Musical Theatre 2006-2007.

PRACTICE

ACTING FOR SCREEN: My professional acting career began in 1986 in Belgrade (ex-Yugoslavia). The principal roles which established my career in feature films (1988-2000), include: Silia in The Last Lap in Monza, Ruza in Three Tickets for Hollywood, Maca in The Night is Dark, Natasha in Absolute Hearing.

Professional work includes leading screen roles for television (1989-1994) in TV series:  Home Sweet Home , The Ship Sails to Shanghai, The Minister’s Wife, Hotel Belgrade… The screen work earned me a celebrity status in Serbia and although I am based in England, I was recently offered leading roles for Serbian National television (2010-2015):  Bjanki in thirteen episodes of a TV series The Blossoming Of The Linden Tree (Cvat Lipe na Balkanu), the Princess Olivera Lazarevic in the TV film The Path Strewn with Roses (Put Ruzama Posut) and Vuka in Her Mother’s Sins

My Acting work in the English language includes: Helena in the feature film The Return (2016), Sonja in the feature film The Sky in Bloom (2010), leading roles in independent short films My Father Eduardo, Helena, and Only by Chance have been shown at the BFI Festival at Southbank and The Institute of Contemporary Arts. I also played character roles on ITV and National Geographic Channel and featured as co-lead with Hollywood actor Robert Vaughn in the BBC Radio 4 drama Solo behind the Iron Curtain (2009). My favorite actor-director collaborations in theatre have been with the directors Lucy Bailey at the Print Room, and Steven Wasson and Corinne Soum at The Pleasance Theatre, with the playwright April de Angelis at The Print Room, and working with the actress and director Lia Wiliams on ongoing research on Harold Pinter’s plays. 

ACTING FOR STAGE: I performed at The National Theatre of Serbia, Taganka Theatre in Moscow, at Festival Internacional Cervantino in Mexico, and many main stream theatres in Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Hercegovina and Montenegro (1986-1994). Significant stage roles include: Sybil in The Portrait of Dorian Grey, Vendle in Spring Awakening, Sasha Lebedeva in Ivanov, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Marilyn Monroe in the musical Nick Cave, Sheila in the musical Hair. The most valuable artistic experience for me was a collaboration between my Yugoslav Theatre company Signum, The Taganka Theatre from Russia and Megaron Greek Theatre from Athens on the Greek Play Electra directed by Yuri Petrovich Lybimov in 1993. 

TEACHING AREAS

  • Acting for Stage: Contemporary and Classical
  • Acting for Musical theatre 
  • Acting for Screen
  • Acting through Song
  • Acting in Devised Theatre

Having acted in the Serbian and the English language and across varied media, I have worked on an ongoing investigation into the craft of acting. One part of this is a teaching methodology The Space Between the Lines which has become an essential part of the BA Musical Theatre actors’ training at Central. It gives students a grounding in how to explore and embody the subtleties of each character they create. This method has been successfully used and demonstrated in contemporary and classical plays, musicals and on screen. The other important aspect of my work focuses on Acting for Musical Theatre and it is about the development of acting skills that go beyond the spoken word and challenge actors in transitions from spoken to sung word.  

For the BA Musical Theatre programme I have designed and taught the units: Acting Fundamentals, Theatrical Interpretation, Acting side of Acting Through Song and Dramatic Movement Expression. I provide acting support on public productions and do one-to-one coaching. I have directed contemporary and classical plays (Romeo and Juliet, Antigone, Medea, Three Sisters, The Idiot, Betrayal, Shoot-Get Treasure-Repeat, Bacchanalia, Hotel Europa…). My great inspirations, while working as a director, have been collaborations with the contemporary playwrights Mark Ravenhill and Goran Stefanovski.

I have had managerial oversight of the Acting training at our course. I am passionate about studying different cultural backgrounds and the individual potential of my students, which brings inspiration and excitement to our work. 

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

  • Application of the acting Methodology The Space Between The Lines in contemporary and classical plays
  • Transitions in Acting through Song - from Spoken to Sung Word
  • Transitions in Acting from Stage to Screen

Courses

Acting (Musical Theatre), BA

Research Areas

  • Alternative mechanisms for expression in Greek plays
  • Evolution from Brecht to Musical
  • Transitions from Musical to Opera
  • Devising theatre & sustainable culture

EXTERNAL WORK AND PRESENTATIONS

My ongoing international collaborations, teaching, workshops and advisory work in higher education since 2007, include: North Western University, De Paul University, Roosevelt University, Chicago University, University of Illinois, Belgrade Drama University, University of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, Academy of Dramatic Arts in Cetinje and Michael Chekov Europe.  

I was a guest speaker at the International Green Culture Conference ‘Theatre and Sustainable Culture’ in Montenegro 2014, presenting my practical research from Central. It had a focus on sustainable culture and the use of the existing location of St Peter’s church as the main set design for the devised piece.  

At the British Library Seminar in 2012, ‘Ivo Andrić Nobel Prize Winner’, I represented a union of Serbian and British culture, participating both as an academic and actress.  

The public presentation of my practical research Antigone in 2013, was followed by a Q&A session with the audience and special guest speaker, composer Jocelyn Pook, whose music was the main inspiration and a tool for my research on Alternative Mechanisms for Expression in Greek Theatre (please see the link with selected extras below).  

In 2010/11 I co-wrote, co-produced, co-directed and played a leading role in a two-hander play inspired by Dario Fo ‘The Whore in the Madhouse’,  at Belgrade Kult Theatre. It was a part of my practical research on Transitions in Acting from Stage to Screen and followed by numerous workshops in the Serbian language. 

In 2016 I received a national award, ‘Golden Badge’ from the Cultural Educational Union, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, for my significant contribution to development of art and culture over the last twenty years. 

E-mail

vesna.stanojevic@cssd.ac.uk