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Maureen J. Korte Professional Storyteller Custom to Canon

Maureen KorteWhen I was six years old a neighbor came to my Mother and said that she felt the stories that I told around the neighborhood were getting out of hand and my mother should do something about it.

This same neighbor had asked me what my father did for a living. We were new to the neighborhood and she was curious. That night I asked my father what he did for the Railroad and jokingly he said he owned it.

I simply went back to the neighbor and embellished the story with some borrowed interest. Tall Tales are good.

When my mother was confronted, she laughed and then said, in her great wisdom, that my stories were not a problem but a gift and I just needed a little direction.

She enrolled my in classes at our community Playhouse.

On the first Saturday of my classes my father picked me up and when we got in the car he asked what I thought of the theater.

I told him I liked it so much that I would do it for the rest of my life.

I have been involved in theater in many ways for my entire life. When I could not be plays I worked crew, or even ushered. I also went to theater and read plays and told stories

In college I was originally in theater as a major course of study but switched to literature as theater made my father nervous. He felt that it might not be a secure field. When I studied English I always took classes about great storytellers and playwrights; Chaucer, O’Neil, Steinbeck and so on.
Throughout my life I have attended performances of all kinds and loved being able to see theater.

I married a man who owned his own business and it required that he travel. When we had children I was not able to leave them for evenings to be in plays.  My sons were active and many times the only thing that they would sit for was a story. I began blending my acting and love of literature and acting out stories and creating my own rendition or adaptation of stories, myths, and traditional fairy tales.

When my son’s friends would visit, many times they would ask me to do a story. Their friends began going home and telling their parents about my stories and soon parents were knocking at my door asking me to do their kid’s birthday party.

I began to tell at my son’s school and was soon known as a storyteller.

One day, when my sons, were about twelve and nine, I noticed a little press release in a Midwest Living Magazine about a storytelling class at University of Nebraska. I begged my husband to take me as I had for many years ridden shot gun on interstates and did not want to drive myself.
My sons each asked a friend and we were off to Omaha. I was dropped off at the University around 8:00 AM while my husband and sons and friends took off for a day of adventure.

I spent from 8:00 AM until 10:00PM taking classes, meeting storytellers and going to concerts. I realized that day that Storytelling is a viable art and science and that people all over the world were and are getting master’s degrees and Doctorates in folklore and storytelling.

Not only did I learn about storytelling that day but I was told by, Nancy Duncan, a master storyteller and instructor of the class, that I was a rare talent and could make a living as a teller.

Nancy continued to encourage me and became my mentor and employer as in future years she recommended me for performances, and had me tell at concerts she produced as well as telling and doing workshops at her annual festival.

Since taking the class at University of Nebraska I have traveled all over the world to learn about cultures and how they tell their stories.  I have presented in schools, festivals, at universities, in cities, businesses and many more venues.

I love being a storyteller. It is one of the few jobs where you can stand in front of your spouse about every six months and say something like “Honey, I have to go to Africa, It’s my job.”

Then you get on a jet plane and fly across the ocean and get into a canoe with two shona guides and travel along the great Zambezi River, sleeping on sand banks, getting charged by hippos, chased by an elephant and learning the stories of an ancient and incredible land and creating many of your own.