Josh Sobel attended Brighton High School in Rochester, NY, which was fortunate enough to be blessed with an exciting and challenging arts program that included Shakespeare, the Greeks, Tom Stoppard, Eugene Ionesco, and an annual 24-Hour Plays program. After a particularly emotional theatre-going experience, he decided that he wanted to be a part of that world, seeking to create work that moved people to tears, to laughter, to thoughtfulness – theatre that AFFECTS the audience.
After Brighton, Josh attended Oberlin College in rural Ohio and immersed himself in the theatre community. He served on both student and department run theatre boards and directed highly lauded productions of CABARET and GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, as well as acted in numerous productions and co-produced a three-week-long festival of student-written work. He graduated with Honors in Directing in 2009.
Inspired by fellow Oberlin alumnus and Chicago artist Taylor Bibat, Josh attended a semester at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Theater Institute (NTI) program. The rigor of this program – from 7:30am to 10:00pm seven days a week – only further fueled his passion, and established his particular love of the written and spoken word (he sometimes refers to himself as a “TEXT-o-phile”). He returned to the O’Neill in 2009 and was soon promoted to Associate Director of “Theatermakers” (the summer NTI program), a position he has held for the last two years and will be returning to this summer.
After the summer of 2009 the question arose of where to set his artistic roots. This was not a difficult question, as Chicago presented a passion, risk-taking, and respect for process that was (and is) difficult to find elsewhere. Chicago is a place where intimate theatre, DIY creativity and ensemble are valued, and that’s where he wanted to be. Josh has been privileged to work in Chicago with Victory Gardens Theater, A Red Orchid Theatre, Pavement Group at Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, The State Theatre, and New Leaf Theatre where he serves as Literary Manager. He has had the privilege of working with Avery Brooks (American History X), John de Lancie (Breaking Bad, Star Trek: TNG), and Aaron Tveit (Next to Normal), among others. He is also constantly inspired by the work of Martin McDonagh, Sarah Kane, Mike Daisey, Gregory S. Moss, Idris Goodwin, and OK Go.
Every show Josh works on is dedicated to his Aunt, the acclaimed opera and theatre coach Janet Bookspan, who was his mentor for the early stages of his career. She passed away in the Fall of 2008. Janet’s belief in him gave him the confidence to pursue his passion with purpose. Every day (and especially when he is working on a show) he misses their long talks spent picking apart the work. He is eternally grateful for her insight, her challenges and critiques, and her love and support.