Remembering Maria Tanner
by Harley Hahn
When Maria was a young girl in Sweden, her family spent every summer at their sommarstuga (summerhouse) on the Island of Gotland in southern Sweden. Maria's best friend Ann‑Kristin, who lived in Stockholm, would spend her summers with Maria, and the two girls would play together all day long. To amuse herself, Maria would sometimes write plays, which she and Ann‑Kristin would perform for their friends and family.
Maria proved to be a natural actress, a talent that she would carry into her adulthood. However, as with her skills at music, dance, drawing, and later, photography, Maria rarely displayed her acting ability for anyone else. Nevertheless, had she chosen a different path in life, Maria could have become an accomplished actress: she had poise, confidence, superb control over her voice and mannerisms — and the camera loved her.
Maria was not one to make videos of herself, but she did so on one particular memorable occasion, when she was visiting a baby goose only a few days old.
Maria had a lifelong love of animals, especially baby animals, and on June 2, 2016, while she was visiting a local farm supply store, she came upon a brooder (heated container) full of baby geese. For Maria, it was love at first sight.
She examined all the babies, picked up the one she liked best and instantly named him Algot, an old Norse name meaning "an elf from Gotland".
Maria put Algot into the top of her coat and hugged him carefully, keeping him warm and safe for a long time. As she held Algot to her chest, the look on Maria's face was one of joyful, relaxed contentment. In that moment Maria, was about as happy as she had ever been in her entire life (and, I suppose, so was Algot).
Of course, this was a farm-supply store, and Maria knew that the baby geese were there for only a short time; soon, they would all be leaving to live on various farms. So two days later, on June 4, Maria came to visit Algot again, to hold him one last time and to wish him well on his new life. It was on that day that she made the short video you see below.
Please take a look at the video, which is only 25 seconds long. To start the it, simply click the image below.
Hint: Once the video starts playing, you can change to full-screen mode by double-clicking the image. To return to this page, double-click the image again.
So what does this all have to do with Maria being a natural performer?
In a moment, I am going to ask you to watch the video again, looking and listening carefully. When you do, you will notice that Maria has the countenance of a professional actress.
First, she looks right into the camera, which means she is looking directly at you. And, like a trained performer, she talks perfectly, with no hesitation and no extra words, confident and natural, instinctively knowing how to use her voice, when to pause, and how to avoid distractions (such as someone clowning around in the background), all of which enables you to feel exactly what she is feeling. Even the way in which she holds baby Algot up to the camera, pets him, and gives him a kiss on the head is perfect.
Remember, Maria is not using a script: she had no one to write her lines, she did not rehearse, and she had no one to direct her. Everything you see is spontaneous and she made only one recording, which means she did everything perfectly the first time.
Now, please click the image above one more time and look at the video again.
Can you see that you are looking at a natural performer?
© All contents Copyright 2023, Harley Hahn