Madeline Sayet

Madeline Sayet (born July 1, 1989) is an American director, writer, and performer. She grew up in Norwich and Uncasville, Connecticut.[1]

Early life and education

Sayet was brought up on stories and traditions of the Mohegan tribe from her great-aunt Gladys Tantaquidgeon, former Medicine Woman, and her mother Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, current Medicine Woman. Sayet also holds ancestral ties to Fidelia Fielding who was the last fluent speaker of the Mohegan language, and died in 1908. These ties serve as an influence for much of her work.[2] From a young age, oral traditions and storytelling all played a major role in her work. In high school, Sayet took part at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center's National Puppetry Conference. Post graduation, she went on to study under the Atlantic Theater Company at New York University as part of the Tisch School of the Arts. After receiving her BFA in Theater, she continued her studies as part of the graduate program, where she received her MA in Arts Politics and Post-Colonial Theory, at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.[3] During this time she co-founded and directed the Mad & Merry Theatre Company.[3] Sayet adapted classical pieces to incorporate her own culture.[4] She also has an MA in Shakespeare from The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford Upon Avon, UK.


Madeline Sayet is a 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 in Hollywood & Entertainment for her work as a stage director, reimagining the classics. [5] Early in Sayet's directing and writing career, she remade the Shakespeare classic "The Tempest" by incorporating Mohegan language and culture. This production served as her graduate thesis at New York University and was brought onstage at the Brooklyn Lyceum.[1] While at NYU, Sayet launched The Mad and Merry Theatre Company, which completed three successful seasons of programming dedicated to reimagining classic stories before disbanding. During this time Sayet furthered her career when she wrote "Daughters of Leda," a play that chronicles the stories of well-known mythological characters such as: Leda and The Swan, Adam and Eve, Helen, Clytemnestra, Iphigenia, and Electra from the female perspective. The production was part of the Women Center Stage Festival, the Dream Up Festival, and Dixon Place's Works-In-Progress.[6] She is the recipient of the White House Champion of Change Award for Native America for her work as a director, writer, performer and educator.[7]

In 2015 Sayet made her opera debut when she directed a new production of The Magic Flute for the Glimmerglass Opera,.[4] In 2015 she also launched the Native Shakespeare Ensemble at Amerinda (American Indian Artists) Inc. with productions of Macbeth and The WInter's Tale.[8] Sayet also directed "Sliver of a Full Moon" which is a play about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that pays tribute to the re-authorization that occurred in 2013.[9] It aims to get the audience to see Native women that were affected by violence to be seen as human beings rather than symbols.

Because culture is such a big part of her work, she learned that in Mohegan, her job is called "Kutayun Uyasunaquock" which means "Our Heart She Leads Us There."[4] She is currently a TED Fellow, MIT Media Lab Director's Fellow, and National Directing Fellow. She served as the Resident Artistic Director at Amerinda, Inc,[3] from 2013 to 2016, the Artistic Director of the Mad & Merry Theatre Company from 2011 to 2014, and has been a Van Lier Directing Fellow at Second Stage Theatre, and a Creative Community Fellow at National Arts Strategies'.[10]


  • Forbes 30 Under 30: Hollywood & Entertainment [11]
  • TED Fellow
  • MIT Media Lab Director's Fellow [12]
  • National Directors Fellowship
  • Leo Bronstein Homage Award— New York University[3]
  • White House Champion of Change Award for Native America[7]




  • Daughters of Leda
  • Who Flies Apart
  • The Pants
  • "When The Whipporwill Calls" in Dawnland Voices: Writing from Indigenous New England[14]

Appearances as performer


  1. Dorsey, Kristina. "Where the Bard and Mohegans Meet". The Day. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  2. "Champion of Change". The White House. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  3. "Artist Information". Amerinda, Inc. Native American Artist Roster. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  4. Sayet, Madeline. "What Sort of Bridge Will You Build?". Howlround. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  5. "One to watch: Madeline Sayet is making waves as a theater director". 11 March 2018.
  6. BWW News Desk (November 18, 2014). "Mad & Merry Theatre Company to Present DAUGHTERS OF LEDA". Broadway World. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  7. "Champions of Change: Winning The Future Across America". The White House. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  8. "How Madeline Sayet is Transforming the Way We Think About Shakespeare". 29 April 2016.
  9. Cabrera, Victorio (1 April 2015). "Performance explores Native American tribal justice". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  10. Sayet, Madeline. "About Madeline Sayet". Creative Community Fellows. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  11. "Madeline Sayet".
  12. "Person Overview ‹ Madeline Sayet". MIT Media Lab.
  13. Purcell, Carey. "Miss Lead, Featuring Nancy McDoniel and Tanis Parenteau, Will Play 59E59; Madeline Sayet to Direct". Playbill. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  14. Senier, Siobhan (2014). Dawnland Voices: Writing from Indigenous New England (First ed.). Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.
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