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updated: 1/7/2013 9:01 AM

Village Theatre Guild tells Nuremberg judge's story in 'Trying'

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  • Lisa Dolnics plays secretary Sarah Schorr to Rich Scott's Judge Biddle in The Village Theatre Guild's 2013 opener, "Trying."

    Lisa Dolnics plays secretary Sarah Schorr to Rich Scott's Judge Biddle in The Village Theatre Guild's 2013 opener, "Trying."
    Courtesy Village Theatre Guild

By Robert Lundin
Village Theatre Guild

Playwright Joanna Glass tells the story of an elderly man who was at the epicenter of world history and a 25-year-old woman in "Trying," the Village Theatre Guild's first production of the year.

"Trying" is the story of Francis Biddle, attorney general under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the main U.S. judge of the Nuremberg trials.

The play is set in 1967 when Biddle is 81 and trying to put his life in order. Elegant, but sharply cantankerous, he struggles with the inevitability of his age and failing health.

His wife has forced upon him a new secretary named Sarah, and the two struggle to find a way to communicate.

The story illustrates how two strangers at two dramatically different places in their lives can unexpectedly and forever influence each other.

Canadian-born Glass drew on her own experience as Biddle's assistant in 1967-68. "Trying" opened at the Victory Garden Theater in Chicago in 2004.

In the Village Theatre Guild production, Sarah Schorr is played by Naperville resident Lisa Dolnics and Judge Biddle is played by Bloomingdale's Rich Scott.

"This play is true," Director Barbara Burghardt says. "This person, extraordinary as he is, was real. He lived in extraordinary times, with extraordinary talent and impressive power.

"Judge Biddle was an accomplished writer and a committed linguist, consumed by the importance of language and dedicated to his own use and improvement of words."

Burghardt says she always has been fascinated by individuals who happened, by the will of fate, to be in power during World War II.

"I'm intrigued as to how they were influenced by these events. Judge Biddle was one such person. I think he looks back at his contribution with both pride and regret," Burghardt says.

"I am fascinated by his eloquence and also his sense of the importance of justice, at a time when justice was very much on the line. He was a passionate, committed, brilliant man."

Showtimes for "Trying" will be at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Jan. 18-Feb. 9, and 3 p.m. Sundays, Jan. 27 and Feb. 3, at the Village Theatre Guild on the northwest corner of Butterfield Road and Park Boulevard in Glen Ellyn. For tickets and information, call (630) 469-8230 or visit

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