Studying the Relationship between Artistic Intent and Observable Impact

  • Dani Snyder-Young Northeastern University


This essay is about studying the relationship between artistic intent and observable impact under conditions that do not allow the researcher's embodied presence at the theatrical event under study. It focuses on the premiere production of Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over, mining the details of the archive of published performance reviews alongside a research assistant's reports from two performances for evidence of the production’s impact on its audiences, with a particular eye to the closing moments of the play.

Author Biography

Dani Snyder-Young, Northeastern University

Assistant Professor

Department of Theatre


Adler, Tony. 2017. “White folks! Pepare to squirm!” Chicago Reader, June 14, 2017.

Armour, TJ. 2017. “Q&A With Antoinette Nwandu, Playwright of “Pass Over.” N’Digo, May 29, 2017.

Bresloff, Alan. 2017. “Pass Over.” Around The Town Chicago, June 14, 2017,

Freshwater, Helen. 2009. Theatre & Audience. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jones, Chris. 2017. “Waiting, and ducking bullets, in the unflinching new ‘Pass Over.’” Chicago Tribune, June 12, 2017.

Nwandu, Antoinette. 2018. “Pass Over”, American Theatre, Sepptember 2018: 56-72.

Ranciére, Jacques. 2009. The Emancipated Spectator, London: Verso.

Sullivan, Shannon. 2014. Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Weiss, Hedy. 2017. “Pass Over’ envisions a Godot-like endgame for young black men.” Chicago Sun Times, June 13, 2017.