May 28, 2020

11° C, Light rain showers

Full Forecast

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?


Advertise With Us

She writes what she knows, so her life is often on stage

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/4/2010 (3682 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

American import Alix Sobler has, in only five years, established herself as Winnipeg's most autobiographical playwright.

There's not much you don't know about her family gleaned from her string of Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival works.

Sobler (right) with Daniel Kash in Some Things You Keep, which premieres at WJT.


Sobler (right) with Daniel Kash in Some Things You Keep, which premieres at WJT.

Her fiancé Jason Neufeld has been a regular presence in her scripts, while her mother, father, brother, cousin and pets have also been immortalized. The actress/director even got named in Neufeld's provocatively titled play called Alix Sobler Slept With My Brother on stage. If you saw her 2004 solo show America vs. Canada you are also aware her grandfather arrived at New York City's Ellis Island in 1914 to escape anti-Semitism in his Polish village.

"It's true autobiography plays a large part in my work," says Sobler, on the eve of the premiere of her first full-length work, Some Things You Keep, opening tonight at the WJT's (Winnipeg Jewish Theatre) Berney Theatre.

"At the moment I find the 'ordinary people' in my life very fascinating. I miss my family in New York greatly. Writing about them makes me feel closer to them. My humour comes from my self-deprecation. My humour is what forces me to write about myself."

The two characters in Some Things You Keep were initially based on her father and herself, Sobler says. The set-up certainly sounds like it. Her stage stand-in Rebecca moved away from New York after her mother died to be with her non-Jewish partner in Winnipeg. Her father has never come to visit her until she asks him to deliver part of her inheritance.

The plot of her comedy mirrors her personal life except her father has never visited her in Winnipeg. Nor will he see Some Things You Keep although he is expected at her wedding to Neufeld here in June.

"This play I think explores our best and our worst when we are together," says Sobler, who will no doubt add some authenticity to the role of Rebecca by playing her in the WJT season-ender.

"I obviously relate to this character. It's not a massive stretch for me. It was a chance to be on stage saying a bunch of things I want to say."

WJT artistic producer Michael Nathanson, who commissioned Some Things You Keep, is a fan of writing where a real-life incident spurs a dramatic exploration.

"Alix's writing is very much like Alix is as a person," Nathanson says. "It's very charming, it's funny and it's smart. It's got attitude in a good way."

The run of Some Things You Keep represents Sobler's emergence from the fringe festival ghetto where artists like her self-produce their own works to attract the event's built-in crowds. She owes Canada's alternative theatre circuit a lot -- grateful for her first audiences and the love of her life, whom she met at the Saskatoon Fringe Festival in 2002. The dark-haired permanent citizen of Canada returned the following summer with her one-woman monologue Flavour of the Week, touring it to festivals from Montreal to Vancouver.

"I couldn't believe how magnificent the country was and the whole spirit of the fringe, that it was this travelling circus," says Sobler, who moved here in 2005. "I was totally hooked."

Ever since, she has been a shameless Winnipeg booster and fringe festival cheerleader. That her relationship with Neufeld, whose plays have also tended to autobiography (Confessions of a Repressed Mennonite), endured was a surprise to both of them and many of their doubting fellow fringers who cautioned about getting too serious about summer loves.

"There were lots of external forces that made it unlikely," says the Ivy leaguer who graduated from Brown University with a degree in theatre in 2001. "We didn't look good on paper. We can consider it a success now, no matter what."

After working for several years as the public relations co-ordinator at the Winnipeg Humane Society, Sobler was recently hired as the Winnipeg Art Council's Cultural Capital's marketing and communications co-ordinator. Her day job will not curtail her writing or the dramatic focus that falls on those around her.

"Some of my very close friends from university are next," she says. "That's a promise."


Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.


Advertise With Us