The Tabard Theatre Company continues its 12th season of family-friendly fare with another little- known but true story, TRYING. The play, a touching tour-de-force, makes its San Jose premiere. Fourteen performances will be offered from November 2 through 18 at Theatre on San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose.
Heartfelt, humorous, and very human, TRYING is Joanna McClelland Glass’ award-winning play based on her experiences as the young personal assistant to retired statesman Francis Biddle in 1967–68. Biddle—personal secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, attorney general under FDR and chief American judge at the Nuremberg war crimes trials—is a patrician octogenarian determined to intimidate yet another of the secretaries his wife has hired to help him put his things in order and write his memoirs. In failing health but still fiercely stubborn about everything from grammar to furniture placement, Biddle finds his latest assistant to be a plain-spoken girl from the Canadian prairie whose intelligence and quiet resolve are a match for his prickly, faltering genius. As the two struggle to find common ground and get the job done, they overcome class and age differences and reach an awkward but eventually harmonious place of mutual respect.
“With TRYING,” said Tabard’s founder and executive director, Cathy Spielberger Cassetta, “we continue our season theme, TRUE Lives: Stories and Songs of Real People. Everything about TRYING rings true. As a young woman, Glass had written a one-act play about her actual experiences working with Biddle in the converted office over his garage in Georgetown. But it took another three decades for her to turn it into a full-length play. By then she was long- divorced, her children grown, and she had just lost to cancer the love of her life (George Sperdakos, a Canadian actor). Glass told an interviewer that she needed the ‘mileage’ that those years had put on her to understand the ‘finality’ of things and to go back and fill out her story.”
Cassetta also serves as director for this production. Starring are Kurt Gravenhorst as Francis Biddle and Alexandra Bogorad as Sarah—Glass’ younger self.
For every production, Tabard donates a portion of its concession proceeds to a local nonprofit. The designated nonprofit for TRYING is Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. which helps abused and neglected children.
TRYING will run November 2 through 18 at the unique, cabaret-style Theatre on San Pedro Square, 29 North San Pedro Street in downtown San Jose. All evening performances are at 8pm; Saturday matinees at 3, Sundays at 2. Tickets are available at www.tabardtheatre.org, email@example.com, or by calling 800-838-3006. Cabaret Seating $35; Adults $29; Seniors $27; Adult Students $15; Youth/Kids $10. Advance purchase is strongly recommended.
Founded in 2001, The Tabard Theatre Company is the managing and resident theatre company of Theatre on San Pedro Square, with administrative offices in South San Jose. Tabard is committed to making a difference in the community through the arts by presenting professional-quality shows that are suitable and appropriate for audiences of all ages. Tabard actors, stage crew, and staff of all ages come from throughout the Bay Area as well as San Jose. The company is also committed to making theatre affordable and accessible for all, a goal it meets through its various outreach programs. Additionally, Tabard donates a portion of its concession proceeds to nonprofit organizations that are thematically related to the shows and often includes food or clothing drives during its productions. Tabard produces five mainstage productions each season.
For its 12th season, Tabard celebrates the theme “TRUE Lives: Stories & Songs of Real People.” Coming later this season: BIG BAND CHRISTMAS SURPRISE! (November 30–December 16), LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT’S SHOULDER (February 1–17), and BABES IN HOLLYWOOD (April 12–May 5). Also included: a limited engagement of I LEFT MY HEART (January 18–27). —Encounters with greatness. Tabard.
Pictured: Alexandra Bogorad as Sarah and Kurt Gravenhorst as Francis Biddle. Photo credit: Edmond Kwong.