Cheryl Sileikis plays Sarah Schor and Glen Pinchin plays Judge Francis Biddle in Gallery 7 Theatre’s production of Trying by Joanna McClelland Glass. (Photo by Veda Maharaj)

Cheryl Sileikis plays Sarah Schor and Glen Pinchin plays Judge Francis Biddle in Gallery 7 Theatre’s production of Trying by Joanna McClelland Glass. (Photo by Veda Maharaj)

Gallery 7 Theatre in Abbotsford presents Trying, described as ‘moving and compelling’

Production runs Jan. 28 to Feb. 5 at Abbotsford Arts Centre

Gallery 7 Theatre’s latest production, Trying, opens Friday, Jan. 28 at the Abbotsford Arts Centre (2329 Crescent Way).

The production by Canadian playwright Joanna McClelland Glass is described by Variety Magazine as “exquisitely literate, moving and compelling” and by the Globe and Mail as “beautifully written, delicate and engaging.”

Executive director Ken Hildebrandt said the play has been on his must-do list for quite some time.

The story is based on McCelland Glass’s real-life experience working as a secretary to Judge Francis Biddle.

“It’s an entertaining, touching and often-funny play about two people from different generations ‘trying’ to understand and work with each other. It’s really quite a lovely piece that I think Fraser Valley audiences will really enjoy,” Hildebrandt said.

The play is set in 1968, when twenty-something Sarah Schor takes on the role of secretary to Biddle, a one-time U.S. attorney general and chief judge of the American Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, in what he believes to be the final year of his life.

The feisty judge soon meets his match in the equally feisty young Canadian woman from Saskatchewan as they navigate working together in rapidly changing times.

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The play explores timely themes of aging and trying to understand one another in the midst of generational uniqueness and changing perspectives.

Playing the role of the crusty, ailing Judge Biddle is Chilliwack performer Glen Pinchin, who previously performed in Gallery 7 Theatre productions of Anne (of Green Gables), The Diary of Anne Frank and Tuesdays with Morrie.

Taking on the role of the fiery, yet sensitive Sarah Schor is newcomer Cheryl Sileikies, a graduate of the Niagara College of Performing Arts who has appeared in a number of short films.

Both roles are being understudied by performers from around the Valley. Karen Street, who last appeared in Gallery 7 Theatre’s production of A Wrinkle in Time, will play Sarah Schor and newcomer Brad Felton, who has appeared in many plays over the past five years, will play Judge Biddle at select performances.

Directing Trying is Langley-based theatre artist Jacq Ainsworth, who received her theatre training at both UBC and the Vancouver Acting School and has worked with companies throughout the Valley and Vancouver.

Ainsworth said Trying addresses themes that are close to her heart.

“The characters both have a strong social conscience, and want to work towards a more equitable society. While Sarah is trying to find her way to becoming a writer, Judge Biddle is struggling to wrap up his varied and influential career. Sarah has to decide if she can tolerate the brusque, often rude, Biddle in order to secure his legacy.”

Set design is by Andrew Potts, costume design is by Des Hale, props and make-up design is by Charlene Crawford, lighting design is by Hildebrandt and sound design is by Josh Osborne. The stage manager is Nelly Fargeon and production photography is by Veda Maharaj.

Trying runs Jan. 28 and 29 and Feb. 1-5 at 7:30 p.m. with matinees on Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 at 1 p.m. Tickets range from $12 to $30 and are available at gallery7theatre.com or by calling 604-504-5940.

COVID-19 health protocols are in place, and the play comes with an audience advisory that there are some minimal instances of coarse or strong language.

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