Press Release

Mercy Killers--Powerful New Play Inspired by Healthcare Horror Stories Begins Chicago Run Oct. 28

The American Theater Company of Chicago, in collaboration with National Nurses United (NNU) and the Illinois Single Payer Coalition, are bringing Broadway actor Michael Milligan’s topical solo performance, Mercy Killers, to Chicago for a five-day run Oct. 28 through Nov.3. The opening performance will also feature a panel discussion with Milligan and local activists at the University of Chicago to explore the next steps in finishing the job of healthcare reform in the nation. Admission is free to all performances.
The tour is timed to coincide with the recently launched Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is projected that nearly one million Illinois residents will remain uninsured after the ACA is fully implemented.

Milligan was inspired to write the topical solo piece after hearing horror stories from the uninsured, many of whom suffer financial tragedies on top of chronic illnesses. He has been performing the piece around the United States in collaboration with social justice organizations to raise awareness about the continued dysfunction of the American healthcare delivery system.
The play, directed by Tom Oppenheim, explores these themes through Joe, a man being interrogated by the police over the death of his terminally ill wife. Joe is a working-class man, sympathetic to the Tea Party and the libertarian convictions of self-reliance and the free market. However, when his cancer-stricken wife loses her health insurance and they become trapped in the labyrinth of the privatized healthcare system, Joe’s faith in the American dream is put to the test and is driven to make a fateful act.
“Over 60 percent of all bankruptcies in the U.S. are the result of medical debt,” says Milligan. “And what most people don't realize is that in the majority of those bankruptcies, the person involved actually had insurance at the onset of their health crisis. Mercy Killers is my attempt to translate those statistics into the actual human experience.”
“While the ACA will extend health coverage to a number of low- and moderate-income individuals and families, we still need guaranteed universal coverage with a single standard of quality care that is not based on ability to pay,” said Martese Chism, an RN who works at J.H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County and sits on the Board of NNU.  “That would be best achieved through single payer reform, as in expanding and updating Medicare to cover all Americans. Through this compelling performance, we hope to encourage audience members to join us in the campaign to work toward guaranteed healthcare for all so that no one has to experience the pain, suffering, and financial calamities documented in this play.”   
Playwright/actor Milligan has appeared in several Broadway shows, including “August: Osage County,” “La Bete,” and “Jerusalem.” While studying at Juilliard, he won the John Houseman Prize for excellence in classical drama. Milligan has performed at many of the nation’s leading regional theaters, such as the Guthrie, Westport Playhouse, McCarter Theater, the Shakespeare Theater, the Folger, and many more.
Mercy Killer’s Chicago Performance Schedule:  

Monday, Oct. 28 at 8:00 p.m.
International House at the University of Chicago
1414 East 59th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637-2997
Wednesday, Oct. 30 through Saturday, Nov. 2 at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 3, 2:00 p.m.
American Theater Company
1909 West Byron St, Chicago 60613
FREE Tickets can be reserved online at:
or at the Box office: 773-409-4125.
Previews of the play Mercy Killers are available by request. For more information about Mercy Killers, visit www.