Sunday, April 20, 2014
Raconteurs are entertainers who tell stories with skill, music and wit. It's a word derived from the French, "raconter", meaning to tell.
Maine's Franco-American raconteur is Michael Parent, of Portland.
Parent began his raconteur career in 1977, when be combined his professional teaching experience with his talents for singing and storytelling. His Franco-American heritage provided him with the knowledge of songs and stories he learned growing up in
Upcoming presentations he’s scheduled to perform are at 4
Michael Parent is Maine's Franco-American Raconteur
Performances are scheduled in residences at
“The stories are sprinkled with humor and very sing-able songs, because I provide sheets with words to encourage and invite the audience to sing along, which they usually do,” says Parent.
Parent was a school teacher for seven years before he began his career as a story teller, singer, writer and workshop leader in the tradition of a “raconteur”. He affirmed his French connection to stories he told by listening to oral history interviews with his family and friends, coupled with visits to
Franco-Americans enjoy a rich history of story telling handed down through generations of raconteurs. Parent revives this custom by conducting workshops and educational entertainment with a focus on storytelling.
French raconteurs, of course, learned their storytelling talents from ancestors who carried their skills to
“Telling stories is an entertaining way of sharing the Franco-American culture and teaching it to others,” he says.
Last year, he adapted the French-Canadian folk tale, “The Golden Phoenix”, a story he presented to junior high students in
Parent created an award winning audio-tape titled “Sundays at Grandma’s and a one-man show titled “Grandpa’s Birthday”, based on stories he collected from his family and members of the Franco-American community.
Parent co-authored with Julian Oliver a collection of Franco-American folk stories, with a few translated from French to English, in the anthology “Of Kings and Fools”.
A bilingual educational music program on CD titled, “Chantons, Let’s Sing” includes a selection of Franco-American songs sung in French and English. He also performed with fellow actors Susan Poulin and her husband Gordon
Performances at 4 Portland senior housing residences are sponsored by the Portland Public Library with a grant from the Eunice Frye Foundation.
Performances at 4
Osher Inn/Atrium (The Cedars) at
Park Danforth - at
Michael Parent’s website is http://www.michaelparentstorytelling.com/
Juliana L’Heureux is a freelance writer whose articles about Maine’s Franco-American history and culture have appeared in Portland newspapers for 25 years. She serves on the Maine Franco-American Leadership Council.
Juliana and her husband Richard live in Topsham ME. Feel free to contact her at Juliana@mainewriter.com.