FDR's Former Attorney General Gets a New Assistant in World Premiere, Trying, at Victory Gardens in Chi

News   FDR's Former Attorney General Gets a New Assistant in World Premiere, Trying, at Victory Gardens in Chi
Barriers of age, gender and class are challenged in the world premiere of Joanna McClelland Glass' Trying, about a Canadian prairie woman who takes a job with Francis Biddle — of the Philadelphia Biddles — in his later years.

The work gets its world premiere at the Tony Award honored Victory Gardens Theater starting March 19 in Chicago. The troupe is devoted to new works and Chicago premieres of recent works.

Tony Award-winning actor Fritz Weaver, paired opposite Kati Brazda, makes his Chicago resident stage debut in the play, directed by Sandy Shinner. The piece covers the final year in the life of Biddle, who was Franklin D. Roosevelt's attorney general, and is inspired by the author's own experience as Biddle's personal secretary from 1967 to 1968.

"Trying begins when Biddle, a 'Philadelphia Biddle,' hires Sarah, a direct, plain-spoken newlywed from the Canadian prairie, to be his personal secretary," according to production notes. "Ill and irascible, the 81 year-old Biddle functions, as he says, 'somewhere between lucidity and senility,' and announces he has but one year left to live. Sarah is sensitive and vulnerable, but determined to last out that year. Together they 'try' to communicate across significant barriers of age and class."

Joanna Glass is the nationally recognized playwright who recently relocated to Naperville, IL. Subsequent productions of Trying are scheduled throughout Canada over the next year at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg, The Vancouver Playhouse, and the Canadian Stage Company in Toronto. Glass' other works include her first Broadway play, To Grandmother's House We Go, which starred Eva LeGallienne, the Tony Award-nominated Play Memory, directed by Harold Prince, and If We Are Women, which starred Joan Plowright in its London production.

Fritz Weaver, best known for his Emmy nominated performance as the doomed patriarch of a Berlin Jewish family in the NBC miniseries, "Holocaust," earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago, and recalls many happy hours on the stage there. He won a Tony Award for his portrayal as the headmaster of a Catholic school in Child's Play, and appeared on Broadway in productions of The Crucible, Ring Round the Moon, The Price and Absurd Person Singular, among many others. Chicago's Kati Brazda appeared in The Misanthrope at Next Theatre; A Kind Asylum at Organic Theatre; The Romance Cycle: Cymbeline and Pericles at Court; The Secret Rapture and Top Girls for Remy Bummpo; Dylan for Seanachai Theatre Co; Wishes, Suspicions and Secret Ambitions: The Stories of Carl Sandburg for Steppenwolf Arts Exchange; The Life and Times of Tulsa Lovechild: A Road Trip, for CollaborAction; The Action Against Sol Schumann at Victory Gardens, and more.

Designers for Trying include Jeff Bauer (set); Carolyn Cristofani (costumes); Andrew Hobson (sound).

Opening is March 29. Performances play to May 2. Performances run through May 2 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Call the Victory Gardens box office, (773) 871-3000, or visit www.victorygardens.org.

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