• Theatre

Dani Snyder-Young

Assistant Professor

Dani Snyder-Young is a scholar/artist whose work focuses on theatre and social change, applied theatre, and contemporary US activist performance.

Her most recent book, Privileged Spectatorship: Theatrical Interventions in White Supremacy (anticipated publication October 2020, Northwestern University Press) examines white spectatorship of mainstream anti-racist theatrical events. Her first book, Theatre Of Good Intentions: Challenges and Hopes for Theatre and Social Change (2013, Palgrave Macmillan), examines the limits of theatre in making social change in order to engage in a productive discussion of theatre’s strengths -and weaknesses- and theatre artists’ opportunities to make change in an unjust world.  She has published essays in Theatre Survey, Theatre Topics, Theatre Research International, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre Research, Qualitative Inquiry, Youth Theatre Journal, and the International Journal of Learning.

Dani is the Principal Investigator for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funded project Theatre participation and arts-integrated peer leadership in substance addiction recovery processes; she undertakes this study in conjunction with Professor Alisa Lincoln of Northeastern’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences.  This project examines the ways participation as an actor in a theatre-integrated program engaging with substance addiction and recovery supports performers with their own recovery processes.

Dani’s artistic work as a director and dramaturg focuses on political theatre, community based performance, new play development, and adaptations of classical texts for diverse audiences. At Northeastern, she directs plays centering the voices and experiences of women, including The Wolves, How I Learned to Drive, and the ensemble-devised The Princess Saves Herself in This One. Dani began her artistic career in Boston in 1999, and is thrilled to be back.  She was an artistic associate at Boston TheatreWorks and she worked locally with Lyric Stage Company of Boston, New Repertory Theater, Boston Playwright’s Theater, Coyote Theater, Other Side Productions, Playwrights’ Platform, Peabody House Theatre Cooperative and Shadowboxing Theatre Collaborative, as well as regionally at Barrington Stage Company, Gloucester Stage, Hangar Theatre, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival.  Her devised work with young people has been performed in New York at the Public Theatre and the HERE Arts Center, and in New York she was a founding member of the Present Tense Theatre Company. She has worked internationally with Misery Loves Company of Prague, Czech Republic.  Dani was an ensemble member of Halcyon Theatre in Chicago from 2013-2018 and is a member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Prior to joining the Northeastern faculty in 2017, Dani previously taught at Illinois Wesleyan University, New York University, and Pace University.  She holds a BA from Wesleyan  University and an MA and PhD from New York University.

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  • PhD,New York University
  • MA,New York University
  • BA,Wesleyan University

Courses Taught

  • Activism & Performance
  • Devised Theatre Project
  • Classics of the Global Stage
  • Script to Stage
  • Capstone

Research/Publications Highlights


  • Privileged Spectatorship: Theatrical Interventions in White Supremacy. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2020.
  • Theatre of Good Intentions: Hopes and Challenges for Theatre and Social Change.Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.  Paperback edition, 2016


Recent essays:

  • “Ownership, Expertise, and Audience Research: Developing collaborative, artist-centric methods for studying reception,” Theatre Topics 1, 31-40. March 2020.
  • “Studying the relationship between artistic intent and observable impact.” Performance Matters 5.2, 150-155. November 2019.
  • “No “Bullshit”: Rigor and Evaluation of Applied Theatre Projects.” In K. Freebody, M. Balfour, M. Finneran, and M. Anderson (eds) Applied Theatre: Understanding Change. Springer, 2018, 81-94.
  • “Despite artists’ intentions, emancipated spectatorship reinforces audience members’ existing attitudes and beliefs.” In S. Woodson & T. Underiner (Eds) Theatre, Performance and Theories of Change.(Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.)
  • “The Promise and Pitfalls of the Real”. Theatre Survey 57.3. August 2016


Professional Affiliations

  • Association of Theatre in Higher Education
  • American Society of Theatre Research
  • Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed
  • Dani serves on the editorial board of Theatre Topics and the advisory board of Applied Theatre Research


Research Interests

  • Applied Theatre
  • Directing
  • Performance as Social and Civic Practice
  • Spectatorship