Muriel Miguel

Founding Member and Artistic Director, Spiderwoman Theatre (US)

MURIEL MIGUEL is from the Kuna and Rappahannock nations. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Spiderwoman Theater, the longest running feminist Native theater company on the continent. She has directed all of Spiderwoman’s shows since their first production, Women in Violence in 1976 and has toured throughout the world with them. 

Muriel is a 2018 Doris Duke artist and in 2016, was a John S Guggenheim Foundation Fellow. She has received an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Miami University in Oxford, OH, home of the Native American Women Playwrights Archives. She was awarded a Rauschenberg Residency in 2015 and is a member of the National Theater Conference and the Southeastern Theatre Conference where she received the 2019 Distinguished Career Award. She is currently a member of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission. 

She was born in Brooklyn, NY. Her mother’s family are from the Rappahannock nation of what is now Virginia and her father’s family is Kuna, from the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama. They met in Brooklyn and had their children there. Their home was a gathering place for the large Native community that existed in Brooklyn in the 30’s and 40’s. She is truly a “City Indian”.

Muriel studied modern dance with Alwin Nickolai, Erick Hawkins and Jean Erdman. She was an original member of Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theater where she performed in the groundbreaking works: Terminal, The Serpent, Mere Ubu and Viet Rock.

She is a choreographer, director and actor. She choreographed Throw Away Kids and She Knew She Was She for the Aboriginal (now Indigenous) Dance Program at the Banff Centre. She directed Spiderwoman Theater’s Misdemeanor Dream and Material Witness; Evening in Paris with Raven Spirit Dance Society and The Unnatural and Accidental Women at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, ON. She has been a dramaturge with Native Earth Performing Arts’ annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival. As an actor, she was the Mary Deity in the off-Broadway hit, Taylor Mac’s Lily’s Revenge. She has worked in Canada for many years. She created the role of Philomena Moosetail in The Rez Sisters, a play that is a seminal work in the development of a First Nations play repertory in Canada. She played Aunt Shadie in The Unnatural and Accidental Women by Marie Clements and Spirit Woman in BONES: An Aboriginal Dance Opera. She has written and performed one woman shows Hot’ N’ Soft, Trail of the Otter and most recently Red Mother. 

Muriel was a Professor of Drama at Bard College. For many years, she taught and directed a yearly production at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto. She has been a groundbreaker in the development of a First Nations performance practice called storyweaving and she actively trains First Nations actors and dancers in this culturally centred method. She has been a Program Director at the Aboriginal Dance Program at The Banff Centre and was an instructor. Muriel has lectured with Muriel Miguel: A Retrospective and facilitated creation residencies and workshops in conservatories and universities in the US, Canada and Europe. 

Her work has been profiled in numerous articles and essays. The most notable of these are Women in Love: Portraits of Lesbian Mothers and their Families by Barbara Seyda and Diana Herrera and American Women Stage Directors of the 20th Century by Anne Fliotsos and Wendy Vierow. Plays Published: TRAIL OF THE OTTER in Staging Coyote’s Dream: An Anthology of First Nations Drama in English Vol. II & HOT ‘N’ SOFT in Two-Spirit Acts: Queer Indigenous Performances- Playwright’s Canada Press.