My Mentors

"All stories need to be told again and again…. The people that hear them, digest the stories in their memories and then breathe them out in their lives. It is the stories that keep us going because we are human we have to know who we are."

- Mary Aasgard Hinderlie

Her Mother was a scholar who loved the way life sounded smelled, tasted, looked. Because she was a theologian the incarnation was her favorite way to identify life. One of the first poems she taught Maren was, “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings”.

Mary Hinderlie didn’t make her daughter’s life easy. When Maren went to school in Hamar, Norway, she made sure Maren translated Cicero every night from Latin to English to Norwegian.

People loved to tell her Mother their stories and she loved to hear them. Her opinion was that there are no uninteresting people, just uninterested ones.

She was the first to show Maren how to listen and to tell the stories that make us human.

"No one ever dies as long as we tell their stories."


"I have felt privileged all my life to hear these tales from the people of my homeland. It is my deepest responsibility to tell the story again to you."

- Duncan Williamson

Duncan Williamson was a Traveler, born on the shores of Loch Fyne in 1928 and raised in a tent. His elders could not read or write but they could tell stories. Honored as one of Scotland’s National Treasures, he was a lifelong story collector and champion of the Scottish Oral Tradition. When Maren called Duncan from London he said, “Well, darli'n, what are you do’in there? Come on up here right now!” It wasn't long before he was showing her how to tell a traditional tale.

Many stories later, when Maren and her husband rose to go, he said, "Darlin', why are you leav'n? I have a guest room. the Scottish government calls me a National Treasure, and they pay me to feed and house you!"

"So sorry, we have to press on, but we'll return someday!"

He looked at her with his piercing blue eyes and said, "Ya knoo, I am the seventh son of a seventh son, and I knee ya won't be back here."

He was right. Maren and her husband never returned to Scotland, but before he died, they did meet again, when she raised funds to bring him to Minnesota, for a Midwest storytelling residency.

In the old days, many travelers’ lives were spent right on the beaches, all that was seen by people passing by on the road was smoke coming from their fires. But the local folk knew the camping places, and it was natural for a lonely old fisherman who saw our fire to come sit down by the fireside. This is how some seal stories were passed on to my people.”

And then he’d begin the tale with, “Now this is where the story really begins!”

Duncan lives on whenever Maren tells his stories...

“We pass each other without speaking, pretending we’re not going to the same place,”

- Roy McBride

Maren worked with Roy, the legendary poet and friend of artists, for several decades. He encouraged her to make use of what was happening now in the news and on our minds. Her story, “The Heartbreak Hotel”, profits from this approach!

Thanks to The Northwest Area Foundation and a group of educational innovators, Maren and Roy worked with two other artists on a pilot project , “ Partners in Arts.” Again and again, she watched him give students a chance to become poets, actors, musicians, artists, storytellers.

He believed everyone was able to create something good.

His work was short and if not sweet it was surely real, funny and fun. Like he said, “It don’t mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing!”

He made her want to write and tell stories his way!

"I feel that Maren’s imaginative work as a performer, storyteller, and teacher can open various avenues for enjoying theatre, not simply as a means to kill boredom, but as resource for enriching our cultural life."

- Michael Lupu, Dramaturg, Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"We write on water,” — Tyrone Guthrie

She met the director, Tyrone Guthrie when she was cast in “Six Characters In Search of an Author” at the University of Minnesota. Even if he were not over six feet tall he would have been a royal giant in their eyes. For this company, he became every future audience in one imaginative, sensitive and intelligent presence.

Like a story the performance of a play has several parts. For the first two weeks, Guthrie was like a conductor. He tracked the action by listening to his actor’s rhythms and tones. As soon as the play was rehearsed on the stage he watched the actors movements,choreographed the scenes, created highs and lows.

If he thought a moment needed something special, he was not afraid to light the whole stage with one candle, to add a chorus, a phrase or have an actor turn his back on the audience or leap through the ‘fourth wall’.

At the same time, he had a reverence for the flow of the tale, the need for light and dark moments in every story and the fact that a live performance lives on—mutable, like water--in everyone’s memories.

It was her privilege to pass on his art and skills in the storytelling classes she taught for the Guthrie Theater.

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