The psychology of assault

West End playwright tackles tough topic in Fringe play

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/07/2016 (2336 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Like many Canadians, Alix Sobler was affected by the accusations and trial proceedings of Jian Ghomeshi.

The former West End resident currently lives in New York where she is attending Columbia University for playwriting. To better process the events that began unfolding in fall 2014, Sobler decided to write a scene for one of her classes broaching the topic of sexual assault, and was met with encouragement to take her ideas further.

“It’s inspired by the Jian story, but (this is) a fictional story so it takes its own road,” Sobler said. “I think the play is about the frustration we have as a society with the way that sexual assault is reported on, the way that people who are guilty or even accused are treated and also the way we treat the survivors of sexual assault.”

Supplied photo Actors rehearse for the upcoming performance of Alix Sobler’s Jonno, a play inspired by the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi.

Former CBC broadcaster Ghomeshi was tried on charges of sexual assault by three complainants and went to trial in spring 2016. He was found not guilty of multiple charges following a trial in March. Another charge of sexual assault was dropped in May after Ghomeshi signed a peace bond and apologized to a former co-worker who had accused him of sexually assaulting her.

Sobler’s play, Jonno, will be performed during the Fringe Festival from July 14 to 23 at the Tom Hendry Warehouse (140 Rupert Ave.). While she does hope to give voice to assault survivors through the characters in her play, Sobler is also interested in looking into the minds of celebrities who have been accused of sexual assault and where justice can be found if not in the courts.

“I offer no answers, I pose a lot of questions,” she said. “If we can’t find justice in the courts, who do we deal with these members of society who for all intents and purposes are known to behave this way but they can’t be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

“I wanted to understand a little better the psychology of someone like Jian or Bill Cosby who are considered upstanding members of society. I mean, Jian identifies as a feminist, so how did he sort of combine those two sides of himself, what did he believe he was doing, what did he think was happening.”

Sobler began and finished writing her play before Ghomeshi’s case went to trial, but she says she isn’t surprised by the outcomes and that the specific details of it are not a focus in the play.

“I read a lot about him and this bizarre duality of personality and how he considers himself progressive and how someone can be culturally immersed and speak for the nation in some ways, and have this private side and be compartmentalizing that.

“It’s still a mystery but I wanted to dive into that.”

For more information, visit http://www.echotheatre.net/#!jonno/c9a0

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