Michael Milligan returns for “Side Effects” premiere

Michael Milligan performs a staged reading of the one-man play Side Effects

Inspired by Physicians Facing Challenges in America’s Health Care System
Part of Zoellner Arts Center’s Notation Series

Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University proudly presents its sixth year of the innovative series–Notations: Lectures and Other Presentations–with highly-respected representatives from a variety of literary genres. Actor Michael Milligan performs Side Effects, a dramatic play he also wrote, on Thursday, April 14 at 4:30pm and Friday, April 15 at 7:30pm. The play was developed at the esteemed NYC Stella Adler Studio of Acting with its artistic director and president, Tom Oppenheim. Notations is sponsored by the Lehigh Creative Writing Program in collaboration with the Visiting Lecturers Committee. Tickets are $10 for the general public and free for Lehigh faculty, staff and students. Tickets are required for all and available at zoellnerartscenter.org.

Actor Michael Milligan’s first performed at Zoellner in 2014 in a one-man show, Mercy Killers, which examined the challenges patients face, and he is now returning with a project commissioned by and premiering at the center, Side Effects, another topical play examining America’s health care system from a doctor’s point of view. Following up on the research and notions in Mercy Killers, this new work builds on the topic of our healthcare system from the perspective of the healer, the practitioner, the physician.  It deals with the intellect, inspiration, commitment and compulsion that informs or compels people to “go into” medicine and the triumphs and trials that keep them there…or not.

As his physician father slips towards senility, Dr. William MacQueen strives to live up to the standards he has inherited. The frustration of forms, complicated coding and red tape begin to erode his practice and threaten his family life. William must choose between the roles of doctor, husband, father, and son. Based on extensive interviews, Milligan’s solo play examines the challenges confronting primary care doctors in America. “Medicine is a trust earned by listening, but I can’t hear anymore,” states the broken physician in Milligan’s play.

Milligan examines the art of medicine, of a physician’s desire to heal patients, versus the war of attrition they face against a mindless machine comprised of malpractice suits, ethical questions, and a broken health care system. He posits how many people fall through the cracks because of these distractions from practicing true medicine.  Milligan’s work strives to put a human face on what he perceives to be a national tragedy.
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Playwright and actor Michael Milligan has been writing and acting for the theater for almost two decades. Milligan has appeared on the Broadway stage as Little Charles in “August: Osage County,” De Bries in “La Bete,” and as a ‘raver’ and understudy in Jerusalem. No stranger to the one man show, Milligan performed Will Eno’s Thom Pain in the original New York run taking over from James Urbaniak and T. Ryder Smith at the DR2. Other New York credits include The Golem with Robert Prosky, the world premiere of “The Empty Ocean” with Harold Clurman Theater Lab, and “Nightlands” with New Georges.

He also received 4 Stars for his performance of Lanford Wilson’s one man show ‘Poster of the Cosmos’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A performance which also earned him Best Actor nods in his hometown, Columbus, Ohio. Milligan’s other produced plays include “Heroine, Urgent: Aliens,” and a musical adaptation of Aesop’s Fables for Circle in the Square with composer/rocker, Joziah Longo, of Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams. A reading of Milligan’s verse play, “Phaeton,” was presented by the Harold Clurman Theater Lab featuring Mark Rylance, David Hyde Pierce and Joanna Lumley.  Milligan received his training from Julliard where he won the John Houseman Prize for excellence in classical drama.  He has performed Shakespearean roles around the world and is a sometime instructor of Shakespeare at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

In his position as Artistic Director and President of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting for over 15 years, Tom Oppenheim has articulated a mission, engaged top faculty, structured a world-class training program and created a cultural center. He originated the Harold Clurman Laboratory Theater Company in 2002 which has since presented over twenty productions including eleven world premieres.  As a result of his vision the Studio has evolved from an acting conservatory to a cultural center with a unique focus in American actor training. Students are encouraged to not only be well versed in theater, art, music and literature, but to also be conscious of and involved in social, humanitarian and political issues.  Oppenheim studied acting at the National Shakespeare Conservatory and with his grandmother, Stella Adler.

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