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Stories about kids, guns and how to stop the violence. Precious Lives, created by 371 Productions, is a 2-year, 100-part weekly radio series about gun violence and young people in the Milwaukee area. The series applies a public health lens to each story to help listeners understand the full scope of the problem: who are the victims and the shooters; how are the weapons obtained; and what can we change about the environment that contributes to violence in Milwaukee?

Precious Lives Takes To The Stage June 15 at the Pabst Theater

Paul Kjelland
Precious Lives: The Live Show will be at the Pabst Theater on June 15.

Credit Michelle Maternowski
Michelle Lopez-Rios works with Arthur Clements on his story at a Precious Lives workshop.

WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee Public Radio and 371 Productions are pleased to announce Precious Lives: The Live Show. On Wednesday, June 15 at the Pabst Theater, Milwaukeeans heard each week on Precious Liveswill take the stage and share stories of how gun violence has impacted their lives.

“The goal is to continue the amazing work in Precious Lives with a live performance that allows the storytellers and audience to connect and examine the gun violence in our community,” says Michelle Lopez-RiosPrecious Lives: The Live Show director.

Lopez-Rios works professionally in theater and at UWM, but she also guides people who are living invisible, painful lives in sharing their experiences with others.

"Everyone has a story and it's important that those stories are told," she says. And, through community-engaged theater, Lopez-Rios says, people are empowered.

Credit Michelle Maternowski
Michelle Lopez-Rios running an exercise at one of the workshops.

In preparation for the live event, Lopez-Rios lead four Precious Lives workshops with young people at COA Youth and Family Center's Holton location. The workshops created a safe place for youth to share how their lives have been touched by gun violence. "They need a safe space to share tell their story; to know that, that story is really important and they are not the only ones going through this and there are places to do this," she says.

"Stories are important - putting them down on paper, putting them in recordings, putting them so other people can hear them... who may think otherwise about a certain person," Lopez-Rios says. "Sometimes just having a loud voice come out of a body is a really powerful experience for a person who has never had permission or the space to do that."

Really powerful stories have come out of these workshops. So now, Lopez-Rios will work with a few of these young people, as well as people heard on Precious Lives, to shape their stories and turn them into a theatrical event.

Credit Michelle Maternowski
Kiran Vee creating music at a workshop.

At the live show, Eric Von, lead producer of Precious Lives: Before the Gunshots, will guide the Pabst audience through these stories, with live music by Kiran Vee of New Age Narcissism.

"That's a big stage," Lopez-Rios says. "But a very powerful experience for [the storytellers], a very empowering experience them and for the audience to see real people, not actors portraying these stories, but the real people standing up and saying 'this is what's happening in my community.'"

The Pabst show begins at 6 pm, doors open at 5 pm. Tickets are available for $10. A discussion and post-show reception will follow the live event. And, join the event on Facebook for updates on the live show.

Free tickets and ticket scholarships are also available for community organizations; contact Paul Kjelland at paul@371productions.com for more information.

Precious Lives was developed by 371 Productions in partnership with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WUWM, WNOV and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Precious Lives: The Live Show and Precious Lives: Before the Gunshots are brought to you by WUWM in collaboration with 371 Productions, as part of Finding America, a national initiative produced by AIR, with financial support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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