Episode 121

Why Truth and Listening is Essential to Your Storytelling

I’m 12 years old. It’s summertime, and we’re on our annual family trip to Bainbridge Island off the coast of Seattle. I love going on these trips, and one of my favorite things about them is getting to see family friends Bob and Denise perform in a different play.

This particular summer they’re doing The Pirates of Penzance. After the show is over, Bob and Denise walk up to me and ask, “Kymberlee, what was your favorite part?”

I’m thinking that since they’re both in it, I don’t really want to pick sides. So I talk about everything: the amazing set design, Bob’s incredible costume, Denise’s epic singing, the cool set, the fantastic dancing, the memorable characters…

After each mention, Bob and Denise just stare at me. But I can’t pick just one thing; I love it all! Years later, I realize that what I loved most was…

The live experience of story!

Seeing it played out right in front of my eyes and ears made each story unforgettable.

My special guest today, Mary Lauren, tells stories in multifaceted ways. She directs them, writes them, produces them, performs them, and choreographs them. And in this episode of the Storytelling School podcast, we dive into her tips and techniques on bringing stories to life with questions like:

How do you know if a particular story you want to tell is important? What should you always do when you get handed a script for your role? What’s the benefit of playing darker characters? And what can you do when you’re struggling to connect to your story?

What you will learn in this episode:

  • How you can bring truth to a character in your story
  • What storytelling aspect can initially stymie a new storyteller
  • Why listening is the key to everything as a performer and storyteller

Who is Mary Lauren?

Mary Lauren is a passionate and multifaceted artist who loves to tell stories. She has had work seen Off-Broadway and regionally as a director, writer, performer, producer, and choreographer. She’s a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Mary has written several new works, in addition to choreographing and acting as the lead dancer in the short film Dream of Spring (which has been featured in festivals all over the world). Some other acting credits include: The Last 5 Years, Gypsy, Sarah Was Mine, Sophia!, My Shadow and Me, and Hamlet.

For almost 20 years, Mary has directed and educated artists. As artistic director of Heart String Theatrical, she created the streaming live/filmed piece Loving You Always. Her cabarets have raised money for artists and for organizations including the NAACP and ACLU.

Mary also serves as the Youth Artistic Director at AMT Theatre, a new Off-Broadway Theater in Times Square. She loves working with young artists and finds inspiration from their exuberance and stories. Over 50 productions with young artists have been directed by her including original pieces and published works like Seussical, Annie, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Beauty and the Beast, and more.

Ready to be unforgettable? Good.


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"Storytelling is an art form - and Kymberlee Weil is the master! I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the most talented creatives in the world, and Kymberlee is close to the top of that list. She has an uncanny ability to uncover nuance and layers in a story - details often overlooked by the author - and has a deep understanding and connection with the value of well-executed presentation. Working with Kymberlee is more than a journey, it’s a transformative experience."


"Kymberlee helped me tremendously in the weeks leading up to my TED talk and afterwards. I have given hundreds of talks to audiences big and small. But the TED stage is a different beast -- every word matters.Kymberlee kept me on point, focused, and she took the time to figure out what my objectives really were and how to get me there. She is a true master of her trade and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from her."


"I thought I had public speaking down pat. I've addressed audiences all over the world ranging from 62 to 1000 people. But going into that red circle at TEDx, and connecting with a vastly diverse audience is like moving to another planet. Kymberlee made that move effortless and exciting. As a former Green Beret, I have followed a lot of quality leaders and coaches, and I would follow Kymberlee anywhere… Especially into the red circle."