"Beautifully multidimensional": director Jacq Ainsworth 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 director Jacq Ainsworth some questions about what we can expect.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Would Gallery 7 audiences recognize you (or your directing work!) from any past shows?
I was very honoured to be entrusted with helping bring Shelley Picard’s new play, A New Normal, to production last spring. It was a very personal piece to many of us and getting to work with the playwright so closely reaffirmed in me that telling a story well is the goal of writers, directors and actors equally.
When we creatives are passionate about truth and the beauty to be found in human moments, ego takes a back seat.
Tell us a little bit about Trying and the characters in the show.
I first saw Trying at a Theatre BC Festival and was incredibly moved by the production. Because Joanna Glass has based the play on her real life interactions, the characters are beautifully multidimensional. They have fears and dreams and goals that need meeting and, at first, you can’t imagine how they are possibly going to get along.
It is their journey together that reaffirms what we know to be valuable in our relationships with each other. That empathy and service to each other can bring peace and joy to our lives.
What do you love most about the show?
I love the unexpected moments of humour in this show. At the peak of the tension, at the heart of the conflict, I giggle with joy at how present the actors are in bringing their characters to life. I love that I root for each character, even though they seem to be acting in opposition to each other. I feel the catharsis that comes from a conflict well resolved!
The play is based on real people and a particular historical moment in time. How do you approach that as a director? Does it change anything?
I must admit, that my directing is fuelled by my own experience and thoughts around my own relationships. A play only speaks to me if I recognize something in it that I have struggled with myself.
In this play, there is a historical set of circumstances and an implied power imbalance that constrains Sarah Schorr in the story. I was born about thirty years later than her character, but I still can see the difference in how young women in 2022 expect to be treated in their interactions with men and what I expected when I was their age!
I remember treating my maternal grandfather with deference and respect even when he said things that rankled, because I knew he was, in fact, very progressive in comparison to his contemporaries. So while I may not have delved into the specific character of the real life Biddle as much as I know our actors did, the character of Biddle is a very real person in my mind.
Who will love this show?
I can’t imagine anyone not recognizing people they know and love in this play. Glass treats the characters with great respect and affection. And while the play deals with and end of life journey, and has some sad moments, it is gentle and warm and very satisfying.
What can audiences expect to see when the lights go down?
Not much. I mean…there’s gonna be enough light so the actors can find their places without running into stuff…
Andrew Potts is designing a fantastic attic! The claustrophobic feel of an overflowing, unresolved life will be realized in the set.
As the show progresses and the struggles to communicate across generational and gender divides bear fruit, the set will find more order, more peace and less clutter, until eventually, all that was unresolved has settled into its proper place and the frenzy will have dissipated.
Trying runs January 28 - February 4 at the Abbotsford Arts Centre!Get Tickets