RUMFORD -Writer, actress and storyteller Susan Poulin has set out on the sometimes humorous, sometimes treacherous path to reconnect with her Franco-American heritage.

Her rollercoaster ride of self-discovery leads her in “Franco Fry or Pardon My French!” to some surprising places.

From the origins of Franco-American spaghetti, to the textile mills of Skowhegan, from logging camps on the Canadian border to being hypnotized to find the French in her head, Poulin is determined to reclaim her first language.

“Franco Fry,” a musical play examining what it is to be Franco-American in Maine, will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 24, in Muskie Auditorium at Mountain Valley High School. Advanced tickets are $8, $10 at the door. A percentage of the ticket sales will benefit the Dr. Martin Scholarship Fund. For tickets or more information, call 364-2224.

The show, written by Poulin, is directed by David Kaye. Songs and music were created by Gordon Carlisle; the show is performed by Poulin and Carlisle. It is performed in English.

A Maine native, Poulin is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine theater department. She has been a featured performer at the Women’s Performance Festival at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, The Maine Festival and the Minneapolis Fringe Theater Festival.

Carlisle has been actively involved as a visual artist, songwriter, writer and actor on the New Hampshire Seacoast and in Southern Maine for more than 15 years.

As the “Poolyles,” Poulin and Carlisle have collaborated on plays, songs and artwork for more than a decade. Their critically acclaimed productions, “In My Head I’m Thin,” “Ida: Woman Who Runs With the Moose” and “Spousal Deafness – and Other Bones of Contention” have broken box office records throughout New England. Together, they’ve been commissioned to write theatrical presentations for the United Way of the Greater Seacoast, L/A Arts (in collaboration with Michael Parent) and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation in partnership with the Lila Wallace-Reader Digest Fund.

“The idea for ‘Franco’ Fry came to me over ten years ago, and Gordon and I have spent the last two years researching, interviewing and writing,” Poulin said, describing “Franco Fry” as “a journey play through Maine to Quebec, into my past and the history of my ancestors and into myself.”

“In the process, we collected some fascinating stories only a few of which could be included in this play,” Poulin said. “I was struck by the power of personal stories. Inevitably an interview would start with the words, ‘I don’t know anything about that’ or ‘My story isn’t interesting,” and then we would be riveted by the unfolding of a life.”

“Every story told me a little more about my own life and made me feel connected in a way I hadn’t been,” Poulin said, encouraging people to seek out the stories in their families.


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