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Show us the Art of Overwhelming the Generation Gap
By Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: Tabard Theatre Co.

SILICON VALLEY, CA-- Parents know how difficult it is to communicate with their children or with any other person from "The younger generation." Some of them believe that the reason why today's youngsters are ignorant is because their schools stopped teaching many of the subjects that the parents learned. On their part, their sons and daughters believe that their parents are ignorant because their way of thinking is "old Fashioned" and only few of them have a little or no knowledge, of hi tech. Because of this, the  GAP between  "The old" and "The new  generation" still exist today.

When as a 25 year old girl, working as secretary for Judge FRANCIS BIDDLE, 81,  playwright JOANNA  Mc CLELLAND  GLASS, experienced the generation GAP in his office, she kept their constant clashes in her memories, and several years later she recollected them and used them to write "TRYING, " a one hour, one act play. Years later, the play was converted into a full-length two hour play that we will have the opportunity to watch in the privacy of our own jp,es. becaise "TRYING" is being streamed at TABARD THEATRE.

As a play, "TRYING" may be compared to a sociological study of the relation of two people from two different cultures belonging to two different generations. The play is fascinating, because the words in its dialogue were so intelligently chosen by the playwright, that just by listening to them, we may learn how we two can learn to overwhelm the generation GAP. The characters are:

Judge FRANCIS BIDDLE, 81, is a scion of an old, Main Line Philadelphia's family from England, that arrived in The Colonies (As the U.S. was called) in the year l681.  Upon arriving, his ancestors bought 43,000 acres of land in what is now New Jersey and because his family was rich, Francis, grew up considering himself an aristocrat.

But if not as an aristocrat, judge FRANCIS BIDDLE may  be considered historic, because under President Franklin D. Roosevelt he  had worked as Attorney General of the United States from 1941 to 1945,  and a  year later, in 1946, he was appointed by  President Harry Truman,  to  Chief American Judge of the International  Military Tribunal of the Nuremberg Trials.

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RICHARD HOLMAN in his role of Judge FRANCIS BIDDLE     

Biddle's home office was located in the yard of  his Georgetown home, in Washington D.C. on top of a garage which had once served as hayloft. The garage was approximately 150 feet across from the Judge and his wife's home, but because of his age and poor physical condition, crossing his yard and climbing the 12 stairs to go to his office, left the old man winded every morning.   

In 1967, convinced that he was now between Lucidity and Senility and that he only had one more year to live, the judge, who was trying to complete writing his memories and consider himself unable do the work himself, because there were lots of letters and memos which needed to be typed and transcribed, decided to hire a secretary.

Sarah Schorr, 25, was interviewed, selected and hired by Mrs. Biddle, his wife, because the Judge had a cold on the day of the interview.and was resting in bed. Sarah was a Canadian from the Canadian Prairies of Sashatoon, Saskatchewan, who had come to Washington with her husband, a few months ago and needed a part-time job. After she hired her,Mrs. Biddle explained to Sarah, that her husband preferred to work with older secretaries, but that she had decided to hire her, who was young, because his previous secretary had left the hitter on all nitht, and burned part of the office

Her first generation clash with the judge, however, happened on the morning she first met the judge, which was during the Autumn of l967. When he was going to dictate a letter and she informed him that she did not know shorthand, but knew a similar way to take dictation.

For us to understand why the judge blew his top, we need to explain that in 1967, with no dictaphones or tape recorders, all secretaries took dictation as their bosses dictated and wrote it in shorthand. After that, they had to transcribed the document to English, check the spelling (no spell checkers either) add the correct punctuation, and then type the document using a manual typewriter. Because a record of the document was needed for filing, the document needed to be typed in duplicate, using carbon paper for the second copy, (for lack of copying machines) Because of it, the transcription of any dictated documents needed to be accurate and neatly presented. Written with good grammar, good spelling and good punctuation and no changes, because erasures are corrections are not allowed in legal papers.

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Produced by Jonathan Rhys Williams, Presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. Directed by Dough Baird and featuring the Actors Richard Holman, as the Judge and Melissa Momboisse as Sarah. The streaming of the play was able to transport us to the Judge's office. The action is divided in two acts: Act I happening on November 1967 and Act II covering the months of January, April, and June 1968.

The direction of the play (Baird) is superb, and the acting of both, Holman and Momboisse,
so natural that only can be described as "seamless." Credit for the streaming of the play need also be given to Costume Designer Kathleen O'Brien, Lighting Designer Carsten Koester, Stage Manager Joan Rubin, Sound Designer Ruben Lewis and Camera Director Jonathan Rhys Williams.

And as Director Baird writes in the play's program "TRYING" is a fitting name for this play in which each working-together moment is trying and demands trying, on the part of the Judge and Sarah, as they learn to overcome, one day at a time, their generation GAP.

TABARD's online streaming of "TRYING" will run until November 22. You can order tickets for TRYING or for the streaming of the next radio play "IT's A Wonderful Life" by calling 408 679-2330 or online at