MURIEL MIGUEL (Founding Member & Artistic Director)
Muriel is a director, choreographer, playwright, actor and educator. She has directed almost all of Spiderwoman’s shows since their debut in 1976, in which time, they have written and produced over twenty original works for the theatre.
She grew up performing with her family and at the age of twelve was the co-founder, with Louis Mofsie, of the Little Eagles, a group that is still active in New York City and is now known as the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers.
Muriel studied modern dance with Alwin Nickolais, 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, Mère Ubu and Viet Rock.
She has choreographed Throw Away Kids and She Knew She Was She for the Banff Centre for the Arts. She was the director of The Scrubbing Project with Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble in Toronto, More then Feathers and Beads with Murielle Borst Tarrant, and Evening in Paris with Raven Spirit Dance Company in Vancouver. She has worked with Native Earth Performing Arts in Toronto as an actor and dramaturge for their annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance Play Reading Festival. As an actor, she created the role of Philomena Moosetail in The Rez Sisters, written by Tomson Highway. This play was 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; Martha in Buz’Gem Blues by Drew Hayden Taylor and Spirit Woman in BONES: An Aboriginal Dance Opera. She most recently performed in the off-Broadway hit, The Lily’s Revenge at Here! Arts Center. She has created one woman shows Hot' N' Soft, Trail of the Otter and most recently Red Mother which was produced by Spiderwoman Theater at La MaMa E.T.C. in May 2010.
As an educator, Muriel was an Assistant Professor of Drama at Bard College. She is a pioneer in the development of a culture–based methodology for the training of Indigenous theatre students and is an instructor of Indigenous Performance at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre (CIT) full time program in Toronto. She is also Program Director for CIT’s three week summer intensive which has run both at Trent University in Ontario and at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta. She was a Program Director for the Aboriginal Dance Program and an instructor of Indigenous performance at The Banff Centre for the Arts for seven years. She has developed four shows for The Minnesota Native American AIDS Task Force working with inner city native youth on HIV/AIDS issues.
She and her work have 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 most recently in American Women Stage Directors of the 20th Century by Anne Fliotsos and Wendy Vierow. There have been numerous publications of Spiderwoman Theater plays, including PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY in Performing Worlds into Being: Native American Women’s Miami University Press; WINNETOU’S SNAKE OIL SHOW FROM WIGWAM CITY in Keepers of the Morning Star: An Anthology of Native Women’s Theater -UCLA American Indian Studies Centre and REVERB-BER-BER-RATIONS in Staging Coyote’s Dream: An Anthology of First Nations Drama in English -Playwright’s Canada Press and of her one woman show TRAILOF THE OTTER in Staging Coyote’s Dream: An Anthology of First Nations Drama in English Vol. 2 -Playwright’s Canada Press.
In 1997, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Miami University in Oxford, OH. At this time, Spiderwoman Theater‘s notes, photographs and posters were the inaugural collection received for the opening of the Native Women Playwrights Archives, also at Miami University. That same year, she was selected for the Native and Hawaiian Women of Hope poster by Bread and Roses International Union’s Bread and Roses Center. In 2003, she was the recipient of the first Lipinsky Residency (feminist in residence) for San Diego State University Women’s Studies Department for the initial development of Red Mother. She has also received an Urban Artist Initiative Grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts.