Photos and Bio

Personal Statement:  Stories have helped me to plumb the depths of my own life and find healing, vision and inspiration.  For over 30 years I’ve seen stories speak to many people and predicaments. I have watched stories help to heal, educate, inspire, delight and weave disparate individuals into communities. I have seen that happen in churches, prisons, half-way houses, hospices, classrooms, courtrooms, board rooms, wilderness retreats, festivals and beyond.

I agree with storyteller Kevin Kling: “A storyteller should be as useful to his community as a plumber.”  I feel at home on a stage or in a shelter, in classrooms and boardrooms or working with kindergarteners, youth, adults or elders.  Stories creep under and over the walls that divide us.  Stories ground us in our common experiences and celebrate our unique styles as well.   The more stories we have, the more ideas we have for meeting the twisting plots and myriad characters in our own lives.

Short Bio  

From American tall tales and Native American myths to Mexican fables, Russian fairytales and beyond, Will Hornyak weaves a wide web of beautifully crafted stories from oral traditions around the world.  A strong performer with a love for the music and rhythm of language, Will fully engages his audiences in bringing traditional and original stories to life.  He often shares the stage with audience members with lively participation stories.

Will teaches storytelling at Marylhurst University and performs at festivals, schools, theatres, pubs and churches throughout the United States.  He has been a featured performer at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee and at numerous regional festivals.  He was named Artist of the Year Young Audiences of Oregon and Southwest Washington. The National Storytelling Network awarded Will with the Brimstone Grant for his environmental education program: Living Streams: Stories for Healthy Watersheds. That program for K-6 schools, has educated and entertained over 60,000 students and teachers.  He lives in Milwaukie, Oregon not far from the Willamette River where he loves to paddle a canoe.

Long Bio

A former newspaper reporter in Latin America, Will Hornyak graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1976 with a bachelors degree in journalism and history and a minor in education.  He worked as a newspaper reporter in the United States and Latin America, reporting for the Inter-American press Association.  While living in Peru and Bolivia he became interested in folklore, mythology, storytelling and performance art.

Will lived in San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, studying performance art, acting, mythology and storytelling. He worked as a carpenter while developing a storytelling repertoire of over 60 myths, legends and folktales from a wide variety of oral traditions. He has been a full time storyteller, teacher and workshop facilitator since l994.  A strong advocate for storytelling as change agent in personal and organizational life, he is a board member and active participant with the Portland, OR based non-profit Open Hearts Open Minds which integrates dialogue groups, theatre and storytelling into Oregon prisons.  He has worked as well with Mosaic Voices of Seattle, WA in using arts-based programs with returning veterans, at-risk youth and incarcerated populations.        


Full-time storyteller, keynote speaker and workshop facilitator.  Provided performances and workshops to profit and non-profit organizations including Petronas Intl. (Malaysia) Thyssen-Krupp International; Schneider Electric; Carrefour Europe; the American Hosptial Assoc., Intel, Doc Marten’s Shoes, Johnson Controls, Liberty Northwest, NW Natural Gas, the American Cancer Society, the City of Portland, Portland State University, the Oregon State Penitentiary (Salem) and the Multnomah County Juvenile Justice Dept.  

Adjunct faculty member Marylhurst University, Communication Studies Dept.

Developed and taught three credit class, “Storytelling for Business and Communication Professionals” and “Persuasive Storytelling.”

  •    Portland Storyteller’s Guild   (past president)
  •    National Storytelling Association
Workshops/Classes Attended
  • Seven residential masters classes with mythologist/storyteller Laura Simms, Michael Meade, Robert Bly.
  • Marylhurst Univ. class “Storytelling Inside Out” Susan Strauss
  • Workshops with nationally recognized storytellers Kevin Kling, Bill Harley, Charlie Chin, Gay Ducey, Michael Cotter, David Novak.
  • Performance Residency with Daniel Stein, internationally acclaimed performance artist, at Comedia Del Arte School, Blue Lake, Calif.
  • Poetry classes and workshops with Naomi Shahib Nye, Clem Starck.
  • On-going performance coaching with Portland dancer/writer Susan Banyas, actor Anet Ris Kelman, actor Johnny Stallings, storyteller Susan Strauss.  


Guest lecturer/storyteller Lewis and Clark College, Portland State University, Clackamas Community College, Clark County Community College and Marylhurst University for classes in education, drama, mythology, human relations, world religions and business.  


Roster Artist for Young Audiences of Oregon. Performed regularly in K-12 schools, libraries, colleges and theatres throughout Northwest and beyond drawing from Mexican fables and American tall tales to Irish myths, Native American legends and original stories.  

Residency and Workshop Program Facilitator.   Taught K-12 teachers and students through workshop “Pass the Word: Language Arts through Storytelling”

“Living Streams: Stories for Healthy Watersheds.” Created and performed a participatory 50-minute assembly program for K-5 students commissioned by the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.  The assembly, accompanying CD and curriculum guide has reached over 40,000 students and teachers in the Portland metropolitan area.  Created similar environmental education assembly programs in sustainability, recycling, composting and watershed education for Clark County Environmental Services, Clackamas River Water Providers, Hillsboro Clean Water and Water Environment Services of Clackamas County.  

Storyteller, Writer, Producer.  Wrote, performed and produced fourteen one-man shows for mature audiences: 2008-2016

Dark Hallows: Myths, Legends and Lore in Celebration of the Celtic New Year of Samhain
Three Shows Portland   Fall 2016    

Lessons from Sheherazade: Telling Tales to Terrorism
TEDx Talk   Spring 2016   Portland

The Myth of Tatterhood and Other Tales of Initiation
Fall 2015  Five Shows Portland

Green Fire

Stories of the Soul’s Quest for Light
Spring 2015 Five Shows  Portland)        

Mostly Grimm: The Darkest of the Classic Tales for Mature Audiences
Fall 2014   Three Shows Portland

On the Rocky Road: Stories of Itinerants, Wanderers and Exiles in Irish Myth, Legend and Lore  Five Shows Portland Spring  2014

Erin’s Daughters: Tales from the Wild Feminine  Warriors, Hags, Heroines, Saints and Sorceresses  in Celtic Legend   Spring 2013  Six Shows Portland, Bend

Tales from the Wyrd: Irish Myths, Legends and Lore In Celebration of the Celtic New Year of Samhain  Fall 2013   Four shows  Portland     

 Waking Finn Mac Cool: Tales of Ireland’s Greatest Warrior-Poet
Spring  2012  Portland, Phoenix, Ashland, San Francisco Nine Shows

The First Irishman – The Legend of Tuan Mac Cairill 2011
(Portland, Ashland, San Francisco, Vancouver B.C., Hood River, Port Orford 10 Shows)

Tales from the Other Side: Classic Tales of Terror for Mature Audiences
Fall 2010,2011 Eight shows Portland

Freedom Behind Bars – Stories from Peru’s      Prisons
Spring 2010  Two Shows Portland

The Bawdy Raconteur: Deliciously Ribald Tales
Spring 2009  Portland, Vancouver B.C. , San Diego  Six Shows

The Myth of the White Stag: The Hunt for Identity and Place
Spring  2008  Portland  Three Three Shows

Smitten: Lovestruck Tales
Spring 2008  Portland   Two  Shows


        “Students completing Will’s class have a deeper understanding of the power of story and the ability to integrate that power into their personal and professional lives.”  Scott Dawson    

Former  Dean  Portland  State Univ. School of Bus. Admin.                              

       “Will Hornyak is a storyteller par excellence….boundless wit, endless imagination, and an ability to transport children and adults into an amazing imaginary world.”

The Oregonian Newspaper

      “Will Hornyak is a world class storyteller and a master of audience inclusion….I can’t recommend him highly enough.”   Joe Lapidus  Principal Chinook Elem. Vancouver, Washington

    “Because of your easy-going and encouraging style I felt safe to share stories in front of an audience for the first time.” Marylhurst University Student

    “Your workshop was the high-light of our staff training and we continue to refer back to the messages conveyed about storytelling.   Tim Syfert Johnson Controls   New Holland Michigan

   “A storyteller’s storyteller.  Will can teach, intrigue, surprise and touch all ages. A master of the craft and one of our region’s finest storytellers and teachers of storytelling.”  Christine Caton  Former Young Audiences