Episode 57 — The Transcendence Triptych

The Transcendence Triptych

Restorative Justice can be individual and it can be social. It addresses the past but it encompasses the future. Bellissima Opera, based in Oak Park, Illinois, has begun a major project celebrating people who transcend racial and political divides.

The Transcendence Triptych is an operatic triple-bill.

The first piece is Outside the Ring. It is based on the friendship that developed between two boxers, the German Max Schmeling and the American Joe Louis, after their fights in the 1930s.

The second, Reconciliation, highlights an extraordinary act of forgiveness that happened during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in post-apartheid South Africa.

Future Perfect draws its inspiration from workshops with Chicagoland youth on themes of diversity, interconnectedness and transcendence.

Richard Pokorny interviews Bellissima Opera Artistic Director Christine Steyer about this work in progress: Its origins, its current state, upcoming events, and how you can become involved. This episode includes the Chicago première performance of the aria “Transcendence.”

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Episode 54 — Mercy Killers

It’s a free country. Here we have the best health care only money can buy. And if you’re sick and without money, you’re free to die.

Dr. Anne Scheetz interviews actor and playwright Michael Milligan about his one-man play, Mercy Killers. Milligan tells about his experiences with the U.S. health care “system” (such as it is) that inspired the play and the post-performance stories and commentary from the audience that reveal both the depth of unmet needs and the variety of experience and perception regarding health care in the United States.

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Dr. Anne Scheetz practised primary care internal medicine and geriatric medicine in Chicago for 30 years before retiring from clinical practice in 2010. She now works as a full-time volunteer community organizer, speaker, and writer for single-payer national health care. She is a long-time member of Physicians for a National Health Program, and a founding member of the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition.

Michael Milligan: Since writing Mercy Killers in 2012, Michael has performed his solo play about the American healthcare system over 230 times around the US. Mercy Killers was a recipient of the Fringe First award at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In addition to theatrical runs with the Assembly, Working Theater, Pillsbury House Theater, American Theater Company and Amphibian Stage Productions, Michael has also played for many leading university arts presenters such as the Zoelner Center for the Arts at Lehigh, The Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of Richmond and many others.

Mercy Killers has also been incorporated into the curriculae of top medical schools such as the Keck School of Medicine which hosted a performance in affiliation with USC’s “Vision and Voices” program. The “ Mercy Killers Tour” is an ongoing barnstorming operation which collaborates with advocacy and activist organizations. The “tour” often uses and transforms donated space into improvised theaters. The “tour” has been presented in church sanctuaries, union halls, libraries, lecture halls, living rooms, community centers, movie theaters, town halls, and even the House of Representatives at the state Capitol in St. Paul. Tour partners include the Illinois Single Payer Coalition, California Nurses Association, National Nurses United, League of Women Voters, Physicians for a National Health Program, Put People First PA, Healthcare is a Human Right/Maryland, Vermont Workers Center, Healthcare for All Colorado, Eastern Panhandle Single Payer Coalition, NAACP local chapter in West Virginia, International Brotherhood of Electricians, Progressive Democrats of America, Labor Campaign for Single Payer, SPAN-Ohio, Healthcare for All Minnesota, Healthcare for All Texas, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Living Hope Wheel Chair Association, Healthcare for All Oregon, Missourians for Single Payer, Ethical Humanist Society/St. Louis, and many others.

Since graduating from Juilliard where he was awarded the John Houseman Prize, Michael has performed at many of the nation’s top theaters including the Guthrie, The Shakespeare Theater, Westport Country Playhouse, The McCarter Theater, etc. He performed on Broadway in August: Osage County, La Bete and Jerusalem. Off Broadway credits include The Golem, Mercy Killers, and the original run of Will Eno’s Thom Pain.

Michael’s other plays include Heroine, The Sublet, The Sea Wolf, Phaeton, Urgent: Aliens, and a musical adaptation of Aesop’s Fables written in collaboration with The Grand Slambovians and directed by Ted Mann at Circle in the Square. His play Phaeton has received several workshops and productions including a reading featuring Mark Rylance, David Hyde Pierce and Joanna Lumley.

In addition to writing and Acting, Michael also teaches and directs at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting where he is a proud associate artist of the Harold Clurman Lab Theater.