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Written by Joanna Glass
Date premiered March 29, 2004 (2004-03-29)
Place premiered Victory Gardens Theater
Chicago, Illinois
Subject Aging
Genre Drama
Setting Wellfleet, Massachusetts, 1967

Trying is a drama by Canadian-born playwright Joanna Glass that premiered at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater on March 29, 2004.[1][2] The two-act play depicts the final year in the life Francis Biddle—the United States Attorney General under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Chief Judge of the Nuremberg trials—as it was seen through the eyes of his then twenty-five-year-old assistant, Sarah Schorr. As the young woman relates to the audience, she is merely the latest and coincidentally the last in a long and unsuccessful line of personal secretaries, all of whom have disappointed Biddle in some way.[2] Much of the story revolves around issues of aging and the breakdown of communication over divisions of age and class. The work is derived from Glass's own experiences as Biddle's assistant from 1967-68.[3][4]

Production history[edit]

The original production was directed by Victory Gardens' associate artistic director Sandy Shinner and starred Tony Award-winning actor Fritz Weaver as Biddle and Kati Brazda as Sarah. After an extended run in Chicago, it transferred to an off-Broadway run at the Promenade Theater on New York's Upper West Side on October 13, 2004 and ran until January 2 the following year.[5][6]

The success of Trying came as a surprise to Glass, as the play was only picked up as a replacement for Claudia Allen's Hanging Fire when the show's lead actress, Julie Harris, suffered a stroke and was unable to go on.[7] The original Chicago production of Trying was lauded by critics and audiences alike and was nominated for several Joseph Jefferson Awards including "Best Production," "Best Direction," and "Best New Work," which it won. The two actors in the Victory Gardens premiere also received Jeff nods, with Weaver taking home the trophy for Best Actor of 2004 for his work in the production.[8]

Following the play's transfer off-Broadway, the production continued to be met with high praise, with critics calling the relationship between Weaver and Brazda some of the best acting seen in New York City that season.[5][6] Glass's playscript, however, found less marked success, with Christine Howey of Cleveland's The Plain Dealer and others criticizing the plot for being too predictable.[9] The production, largely financed by Chicagoans, closed early following financial disappointments. In spite of this, though, Trying continues to be revived regularly at regional theatres across the United States, most recently at the South Carolina Repertory Company in 2005,[10] at the Old Globe in San Diego in 2006,[2] at the Colony Theatre in Los Angeles in 2007,[11] and at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, CA in 2010.[4]


  1. ^ "Trying times at Rosebud Theatre". The Strathmore Times. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Hodgins, Paul (24 April 2006). "Trying: Old Globe, Cassius Carter Center Stage, San Diego". Variety. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Jones, Kenneth (19 April 2004). "Victory Gardens Keeps Trying: Joanna Glass With Fritz Weaver Extends Two Weeks". Playbill. Archived from the original on 31 January 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Jacobs, Tom (22 March 2010). "Trying at the Rubicon: New Play Explores Final Years of a Famous Judge". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Joanna McClelland Glass' Trying to Close at the Promenade". 8 December 2004. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth (8 December 2004). "Trying, Joanna Glass' Award-Winning New Play, Will End Off-Bway Run Jan. 2, 2005". Playbill. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Jones, Kenneth (17 November 2003). "Premiere of Joanna Glass' Trying, With Fritz Weaver, Replaces Julie Harris Vehicle at Chicago's VGT". Playbill. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Jones, Christopher (9 September 2004). "Chicago Shakespeare Tops Jeff Nominations". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  9. ^ Howey, Christine. "In 'Trying,' Excellent Performances Outweigh Play's Predictable Course". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "South Carolina Repertory Company presents Trying". The Island Packet. 28 October 2005. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  11. ^ Wilkerson, Beverly (26 August 2007). ""Trying," a Triumph of the Ages". Canyon News. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 

External links[edit]