Healing the heart of American healthcare.

Support the dialogue: healthcare plays make politics personal through gripping narrative.

Poor Box Theater- American Mercy Tour A Project of Other Projects


The Poor Box Theater
An actor, an audience, and an empty space.
Keeping overhead low, we reach high.
Through simplicity, we delve into complexities.
Limiting spectacle, we expand imagination.
A light in dark corners reveals hidden treasures.
One vulnerable heart redeems the whole world
and the greatest revolution of all is empathy....

The Grand Rounds of America Tour
The Poor Box Theater's barnstorming tour of America presents the award winning plays of Michael Milligan in unexpected places. By claiming unconventional spaces for performance, Poor Box sparks dialogue about the healthcare system where it is needed most. Over 200 churches, community centers, lecture halls, classrooms, theaters, dance studios, union halls, hospitals, living rooms and libraries around the country have been transformed into impromptu performance spaces. In addition to tours of West Virginia, Oregon, Texas, Minnesota, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and New York, Mercy Killers and Side Effects have played at hospitals and medical schools like the Mayo Clinic as well as the House of Representatives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

By supporting the American Mercy Tour you will share the Gift of Art with strangers in diverse American communities by keeping all performances in the tour free to the public. Grass roots organizers continue to request performances all over the country- your support will help make these shows possible.

Coming to Chicago-
Mercy Killers and Side Effects are coming to Chicago for five weeks in the Fall of 2017. The shows will be presented using the "Poor Box" model- which means ALL tickets will be PICK YOUR OWN PRICE. The Poor Box Theater believes the Arts, like healthcare, are a basic human need and a public good- and so, we are committed to providing UNIVERSAL ACCESS to all of our shows! We hope you'll help support this model by becoming a patron of the Poor Box Theater.

Next stop- your town!
The Poor Box Theater wants to come to you. The shows were conceived to be easily produced with low overhead. So, if you have a church basement, community center, library, or other public space where you'd like to present a show, please contact us and share your idea. We currently have invitations and inquiries from all over the country- and we'd like to keep this grassroots touring as affordable as possible for local organizers. Please consider becoming a patron to help us keep sharing these important stories in the American heartland.

About Mercy Killers
Blue collar 'Joe' grapples with his red state ideals when he realizes the measures he must take to care for his beloved wife. A surprisingly tender love story, Mercy Killers is an unblinking look at health care in America.


'Milligan's high-octane performance is raw with grief, rage and incomprehension. The stark set—a chair, a bright light and a table—highlights Joe's loneliness, inadequacy and abandonment. And by the end of the play, a for-profit health care system that is responsible for more than 60 percent of all U.S. bankruptcies is no longer just a matter of statistics. Its reality is felt like the blast of a furnace." Chris Hedges, TruthDig

"The Play Obamacare Needs." The Daily Beast.

"Riveting." The Chicago Reader

"Five Stars." The Scotsman

"Milligan does not so much play the role of Joe as he becomes Joe. The intensity of both the acting and the play's themes packs a serious punch into a short amount of time. As the self-made man is confronted by a merciless socio-cultural machine, the political message is strong and timely – but the human implications are what knock us off our feet." Aisle Say Twin Cities.

About Side Effects

More than half of physicians in America struggle with burnout according to a recent study by the Mayo Clinic. Playwright Michael Milligan spent the last couple years asking doctors around the country "why?" In his new play, Side Effects, Milligan shares the answers he received through the fictionalized account of one doctor's struggle.

No one ever told Dr. William Macqueen about the "side effects" of practicing medicine. As bureaucratic and financial pressures collide with his professional standards, William must reconcile the art and business of medicine.


"Michael Milligan delivers a deftly calibrated emotional performance. The play offers a multi-layered perspective of a physician in crisis, caught between a desire to serve his patients and the demands of the current health system."
Johanna Rian, Mayo Clinic, Program director, Center for Humanities in Medicine

"Magnificent performance… Milligan has captured the emotional and ethical dimensions of primary care practice in the United States." Oliver Fein, Physicians for a National Health Program

"The changes in health care have effected all of us, including the providers. This play demonstrates this in a personal way. Excellent." Doreen McIntyre, Minnesota Nurses Association, Board of Directors

"First-rate… Milligan is an engaging, canny actor with a gift for natural behavior and the tics of everyday speech. He vividly shows the deep reluctance of his characters to complain while also building steam around the pressures that drive them to snap. And boy do they snap. Milligan has done his research, having toured "Mercy Killers" around the country and now premiering "Side Effects". The data is authoritative; each incident about a treatment or billing code rings true, winding these guys ever tighter until they blow. We all know that politics is more important than theater, right? But the talk is frequently deeper and better in the theater, where you have to sit, listen and think for an hour or two. Check it out, and reckon with these haggard men before deciding what we ought to do next." Washington Post

"….a driving and nuanced solo production about the health care system. As Dr. William MacQueen, Michael Milligan delivers a passionate performance about the conflicted complexities, doctor-patient relationship, generational changes, economic considerations, and ethical responsibilities confronting doctors and the medical profession…. Michael Milligan has taken a substantial challenge. Writing from collected interviews with doctors from around the country, Milligan has spoken with physicians who normally don't have time to talk, created a picture of these professionals as people and most successfully, has gotten to the heart of the matter." DC Metro Theater Arts


"Compelling, timely… it's effective to see the results of all this pressure and a broken system on one man, which is why Milligan is effective in his play in getting across an argument that has the power to actually move someone out of their entrenched position on Capitol Hill. And that's saying a lot. There's grit and intent behind "Side Effects" that can't be missed, and Milligan is doing great work bringing it to a place where it might even have an effect." Broadway World.




$375 Raised
1% towards $25,000 Goal

Supported by 7 Donations:

  • Demand Universal Healthcare (DUH) S.
    DUH has been fans of Michael Milligan's powerful work since his first Chicago performances of Mercy Killers. His talent & commitment shine!
  • Anthony L.
    I Gave $200
    Michael, this work is important and should be shared. I'm happy to contribute so the message continues on. Best, Anthony
  • Sue D.
    Demand Universal Heathcare (DUH) considers Michael and his plays important forces for good in the fight for healthcare justice! DONATE & SEE THEM!
  • Constance H.
    I Gave $25
    Congratulations Michael!
  • Kimberly  L.
    I Gave $50
  • Steve L.
    Mike I know you will do great things with this organization!
  • Silhouette
    Anonymous
    I Gave $25