Storytelling Is My Livelihood


Mary’s Story
Ever since I was a child, storytelling has been a part of my life. Back then, it was an escape from getting into trouble—but usually the opposite happened. Having spent quite a bit of time in the coat closet at elementary school for “stretching the truth of a situation,” one would think I would have given up on this venture. Many were the times when the priests would lecture me in the confessional—guess it just didn’t soak in!Mary Henning

About twenty years ago, I watched Nancy Duncan do a story in which she transformed herself into a chicken. What an experience! That was something I had always wanted to do (story-tell for applause, not become a chicken). We became friends after she observed me giving a tour at MONA. She told me I would be a storyteller at the newly formed Winter Tales Festival in Kearney. YIKES! With her support and mentoring, I found my passion.

It was amazing—what used to get me into trouble, now merited applause! In the beginning, children were my preferred audience—they are easily drawn into a story. Before long, adults were asking for programs too. Soon chamber dinners, company dinners, libraries, schools, and meetings became storytelling venues; people seemed to hunger for a live person telling a story!

My biggest thrill came when I was asked to open for a comedian at the Merryman Performing Arts Center. Doing an original comedic routine on a stage with bright lights and a huge audience was the scariest and most exciting thing I had ever done (except for getting married and having children).

Everyone has a story to tell; my hope is to encourage more people to do it.

About Marymary
Mary and her husband of 44 years, Tom, call Kearney, Nebraska home. They cherish their two married children and their six grandchildren.

She received her teaching degree from Kearney State College and taught second grade in Lincoln and Kearney.

Mary has been a “professional” storyteller for 20 years. She has authored three children’s books, but mostly works very hard at “staying out of trouble!”

Currently, Mary serves on the Humanities Nebraska Council, Kearney Area Storytelling Festival Board, MONA Board, Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation Board, Crane River Theater Board, Woman’s Club Board, Docent at MONA, Hospice Volunteer, member of WIN.