"A true and fascinating journey": Glen Pinchin on Trying
A Canadian story about two people with very different perspectives "trying" to understand one another, Trying by Joanna McClelland Glass starts January 28 at the Abbotsford Arts Centre!
To learn more about the show, we asked Glen Pinchin about his character Francis Biddle and how rehearsals have been.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Would Gallery 7 audiences recognize you from any past shows?
I am 73 years old, married to the same woman, my lovely, supportive and very patient wife, Marla, for 51 years. We have 3 daughters, 13 grandchildren and 3 great grands. I served for 32 years with the RCMP and retired in 2000.
Shortly after retiring, I rekindled an interest in theatre and acting that had first appeared when I was in high school. I wanted to “do” theatre right so I attended the University of the Fraser Valley and completed a Theatre Arts diploma. That was an excellent experience in many ways.
I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to act in a number of excellent productions in various venues…starting with UFV…and then on to Gallery 7, Pacific Theatre, United Players, etc.
At Gallery 7 I have appeared in several productions, most notably, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, “Anne of Green Gables” and “Tuesdays with Morrie”.
Tell us a little bit about your character, Francis Biddle.
Biddle, 81 years old at the time of the play, was living in Washington, D.C., and he had been married to his wife Katharine for over 50 years. He was born into a wealthy Philadelphia family, however his father died when he was six years old and this left a permanent void in his life. He and his wife also lost a son to illness at age 7. This, too, left its mark on Biddle.
Biddle was a lawyer (Harvard) and he served in several high-profile positions within the U.S. government and other organizations. He was a brilliant man, however, at the time of the play he was in poor health and under considerable pressure to complete his memoirs and serve as a source of information and verification in regard to his connection to, and knowledge of, other prominent political figures, Franklin Roosevelt most notably. He knew his death was not far off and, suffering both physically and emotionally, he could be a very difficult person to work with.
Trying is based on real people and a historical moment in time. Does that change your process as an actor at all?
I love that the story is, to a significant extent, true. There are a number of references to real people and real events in the script and this allows one to do a lot of research into what those facts and events really were and how they contribute to the story. I feel this is very helpful in trying to understand who the characters are and how and why they operate as they do. Hopefully this translates into my portraying my character, Biddle, in a more believable and fully developed way.
How has the rehearsal process been so far?
The rehearsal process has been very interesting and challenging. There have been considerable weather hurdles with cancelled or rescheduled rehearsals, and then of course Covid concerns to deal with. Being a two-character play, and a rather long one at that, the script analysis and character development have been a big challenge, not to mention the amount of memory work, which was for me, at times, daunting.
That said, we have been blessed to be directed by Jacq Ainsworth, whose collaborative approach and willingness to listen to my, at times “Biddlean”, remonstrations has been so appreciated. I have similarly appreciated the team approach of my lovely scene/play partner Cheryl and everyone else involved.
Without giving anything away, what's your favourite moment in the show?
There are quite a few moments that I really like and I’m not sure that there is one which trumps the rest. If I had to pick one moment, perhaps it is near the end of the play when Biddle really opens up about how the loss of his father and his son have so deeply affected him. I enjoyed how that plays out.
What can audiences expect to see when the lights go down?
Hopefully audiences will see two people from very different backgrounds who over the course of time, meet, fight, change and ultimately respect and perhaps even love each other. As they witness the ways in which this happens, I would hope audiences are moved at times to laugh, perhaps to be a bit angry, and certainly to feel empathy for the characters.
The play offers a true and fascinating journey which I hope audiences will find entertaining and also, hopefully, thought provoking.
Trying runs January 28 - February 4 at the Abbotsford Arts Centre!