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Sheboygan storytelling project features elders and returns to stage after pandemic pause

Live Forever Project shares stories through song, dance and visual art

Live Forever Project founder Colleen Machut (far right) and members of the theatre troupe at the Historic Washington House in Two Rivers.
Live Forever Project founder Colleen Machut (far right) and members of the theatre troupe at the Historic Washington House in Two Rivers. Photo courtesy of Colleen Machut

An effort to preserve the memories of elderly Sheboygan residents through song, dance, poetry and visual art is returning to the stage this weekend.

The Live Forever Project’s first performance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is set for Saturday. The star of the show will be 96-year-old Evelyn Prevenas.

During a recent appearance on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time,” Prevenas said she’s thrilled to perform. She became eager to talk with anyone after her apartment building for seniors limited visitors due to the pandemic.

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“The stories just poured out of me,” she said.

On “Central Time,” Prevenas shared a poem about love and loss. She said music in the show could make everyone cry. She explained how she started skydiving at age 79.

“It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done,” Prevenas said. “I always tell people skydiving is addictive, because I went at least seven times. I would have continued going, but the people that were running the Skydive Adventure decided to retire and move to Florida.”

Live Forever Project founder Colleen Machut also joined “Central Time” and said Prevenas “embraces this essence of freedom, exhilaration and exuberance.”

“I was just very personally inspired by her,” Machut said. “I feel like we’re the ones who are lucky to be able to hear these people share their lives with us and to be able to take these stories and tell them.”

To create the show, Machut and others reviewed transcripts from interviews with Prevenas. They discussed themes and let artists pick their ideas. The show captures Prevenas’ life through vignettes.

Machut said the Live Forever Project grew from wanting to capture her grandparents’ stories about a decade ago. Her grandfather fought in World War II. Her grandmother managed the home front.

After her grandparents were involved in a car accident, Machut realized stories can disappear quickly. (Her grandparents were OK after the accident.)

Prevenas said she has a message for older residents: “Share your stories with whoever will listen because someday they will come back, somebody will remember it and you will live forever.”

If you go:

  • What: “You Might as Well Enjoy Yourself” by the Live Forever Project
  • When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23
  • Where: 101 School Street, Sheboygan Falls

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