Educated at Robbinsdale High School in New Hope, Minn., and at the University of Minnesota, Marti Maraden made her stage debut at age 15, playing Anne Frank in her high school production of The Diary of Anne Frank. She and then-husband Frank Maraden came to Canada in 1968, settling in Vancouver. She performed at several local theatres and did radio and television work before she and her husband won roles in the Stratford Festival's 1974 season.
In 6 consecutive seasons at Stratford under artistic director Robin PHILLIPS, Marti Maraden became the festival's leading ingénue, a figure of notable sweetness and elegance. She made her Stratford debut in 1974, playing Katherine in Love's Labour's Lost, but her most remarkable season was 1976 when she played Miranda in The Tempest, Ophelia in Hamlet, Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest and Irina in the acclaimed John HIRSCH production of Chekhov's The Three Sisters, alongside Maggie Smith and Martha HENRY. Other starring roles included a luminous Juliet opposite Richard MONETTE's Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (1977).
After playing Regan in the Peter Ustinov King Lear of 1979, Maraden left Stratford to work in New York, returning to spend 7 successful seasons at the Shaw Festival, playing, among other roles, Roxanne opposite Heath LAMBERTS in Cyrano de Bergerac (1982-83), Cleopatra in Caesar and Cleopatra (1983), Ellie Dunn in Heartbreak House (1985), and Wendy in the hit production of Peter Pan (1988).
Returning to the Stratford Festival as a director, Marti Maraden's extensive credits included Elliott Hayes's Homeward Bound (Stratford, 1991; Canadian Stage, 1994), an exuberant production of Michel TREMBLAY's Les Belles Soeurs (1991), Love's Labour's Lost (1992), Two Gentleman of Verona (1992), Macbeth (1995), The Merchant of Venice (1996) and a fine interpretation of Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons (1998).
She has also directed numerous plays for CANADIAN STAGE, including Six Degrees of Separation (1995), Hard Hearts (1996) and Trying (2005).
Maraden was artistic director of English Theatre at the NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE (NAC) from 1997 to 2005, and was one of the driving forces behind the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, the first national festival dedicated to Canadian work. Her work at the NAC includes Carol Shields' Thirteen Hands (1997), Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (1998), Michael O'Brien's adaptation of Charles Dickens' Hard Times (2000) and All's Well That Ends Well (2001).
She was co-artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival 2008 season with Des MCANUFF and Don Shipley until she and Shipley resigned, citing artistic differences with McAnuff. She directed The Trojan Women and All's Well That Ends Well in 2008 and returned to direct The Winter's Tale in 2009.
Marti Maraden is an active and sought-after freelance director; newer work includes Calendar Girls (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre/Mirvish Productions, 2011), Do You Turn Somersaults? (Talk Is Free Theatre, Barrie, 2011) and The 39 Steps at the Globe Theatre, Regina (2012).