Dan Smith

(517) 884-7789

133 Auditorium Building

FacultyTheatreFilm Studies

Associate Professor
Theatre Studies


Dr. Daniel T. Smith Jr. is a dramaturg, translator, director, and theatre historian with research interests in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French theatre, history of sexuality, and translation studies.

After studying French Literature at the University of Notre Dame, Dan earned degrees in Theatre from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (MFA) and Northwestern University (PhD).  Dan has chaired the Theatre History Focus Group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and served as Conference Planner and Focus Group Representative for ATHE’s Dramaturgy Focus Group. He has previously taught Theatre Studies courses at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago, and The Theatre School at DePaul University.  

Dan has worked extensively as a professional dramaturg, primarily in Chicago. He served as Associate Artistic Director/Resident Dramaturg of Caffeine Theatre from 2010-2012. Highlights with Caffeine include production dramaturgy for The Cocktail Party; Translations; Under Milk Wood; Wreckage; Boojum! Nonsense, Truth and Lewis Carroll and co-producing events including the Aphra Behn Coffeehouse at the Newberry Library and a Steppenwolf: Explore event in conjunction with Enda Walsh’s play Penelope. Dan has also worked with such companies as Steep Theatre, Infamous Commonwealth Theatre, The Hypocrites, Kickshaw Theatre, Halcyon Theatre, Remy Bumppo, Northlight Theatre, and the Goodman Theatre.  

His translations for the stage include Don Juan by Moliere; Love in Disguise by MarivauxA Dangerous Liaison by Madame de Beaunoir; and The Horrible Experiment by André de Lorde. He has co-translated and directed Carlo Gozzi’s The Serpent Lady at MSU. He provided an annotated translation of The Imaginary Invalid by Molière for Constance Congdon’s adaptation (Broadway Play Publishing, 2016) and has done similar dramaturgical translation work for organizations including Disney Theatrical Group (back translation of Le Roi Lion). Dan has published articles, translations, and reviews in such journals as L’Esprit Créateur, Performing Arts ResourcesThe MercurianTheatre Research InternationalComparative DramaDidaskalia, Performing Arts Resources, Theatre/Practice and Theatre Journal. He served as Editor of Theatre/Practice from 2019-2023.

As a member of LMDA‘s Advocacy Committee, Dan collaborated on creating the Dramaturgy Toolkits site and NPX Recommend-a-thon in support of the New Play Exchange. (His NPX profile features translations, adaptations, and original plays.)

Dan is also a three-time Jeopardy! Champion (episodes aired February 2009).

Awards and Honors


“War, Ukraine, and American Theatre: A Call to Action.” With Dmitry Troyanovsky. Review: The Journal of Dramaturgy 28.1 (2022), pp. 3-6.

“Discipline and Display: Replaying Libertine Sexualities and Rococo Aesthetics in Twenty-First Century Paris.” L’Esprit Créateur 62.2 (Summer 2022), pp. 89-103.

“What Is Essential in Teaching Theatre History? A Revised Theatre Studies Curriculum.” With Ann Folino White. Theatre Topics 31.2 (July 2021), pp. 113-120.

The Misanthrope by Molière” in Miriam Chirico and Kelly Young, eds. How to Teach a Play: Essential Exercises for Popular Plays. Bloomsbury Press, 2020. pp. 93-95.

“Brecht for Theater Majors: Teaching Epic Theater in a Play Analysis Course.” Brecht Yearbook 41 (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2017), pp. 63-76.

60/50 Theatre Project: Collaboration, Citizenship, and the Faculty Dramaturg.” Theatre/Practice Vol. 5 (2016).

University News

MSU Albertine Cinémathèque French Film Festival Set for Select Dates April 3-13
Published March 28, 2023 in College of Arts & Letters
The MSU Albertine Cinémathèque French Film Festival, which will bring six contemporary and classic French films to Michigan State University’s campus, will be held on select dates from April 3…Read now »
Faculty Receive Funding to Develop Open Educational Resources
Published July 9, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
a building with many windows surrounded by trees
In an effort to promote equal access to information and spaces for all, MSU Libraries have awarded nine MSU faculty members funding assistance for the creation and adaption of open education…Read now »
Graduating Senior Founds Business to Support Marginalized Gender Playwrights
Published April 3, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
Woman wearing a pink hat and black dress in front of a red curtain
Taylor McPhail, a senior Theatre major, recently started her own business, By/For Publishing, which digitally publishes plays written by playwrights of marginalized genders, work that is far…Read now »
Summer Circle Theatre Begins June 6
Published May 17, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
a cement circle stage surrounded by grass, people are standing around
This June, MSU’s Department of Theatre, with support from the Friends of Theatre, invites you to a summer of romance under the stars as it kicks off its 58th season…Read now »
Department of Theatre to Present ‘The Misanthrope’
Published November 3, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
The Misanthrope cast, two men and one woman
The MSU Department of Theatre is proud to present Molière’s The Misanthrope in a lively verse adaptation by Constance Congdon, based on a translation by Virginia Scott. Directed by…Read now »
Divergent Voices Theme of 2017-2018 Department of Theatre Season
Published May 25, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
graphic grid of theatre posters
In a time where debate may be equivalent to yelling, where respect means only similar points of view, where we all seem to only agree on disagreement, theatre must do what it was created to do:…Read now »