Arts

Obsidian Theatre is one of Canada's leading independent theatre companies. Image: Obsidian Theatre,21 Black Futures/Provided.

Stéphie Mazunya’s solo show will be the only French selection in Obsidian’s upcoming season.

Stéphie Mazunya, theatre artist and 2015 graduate of the University of Ottawa’s theatre program, has been selected by Toronto’s Obsidian Theatre as one of 21 Black playwrights to create a piece of theatre which answers the question: “what is the future of Blackness?”

The honour of the selection isn’t lost on Mazunya, who is looking forward to exploring “what kinds of characters we’ll see in the future, characters who are close to who I am.” Obsidian Theatre, founded in February 2000 in Toronto, is one of Canada’s leading independent theatre companies, one whose mandate is “to bring the Black voice, in its many artistic dialects, to Canada’s cultural forefront.” 

Mazunya’s show will be the only French programming in Obsidian’s upcoming season, collectively entitled 21 Black Futures. Her monodrama, a solo show written for a Black woman, follows a Black protagonist with an ongoing writing project; the play grapples with writers’ literary influences and feelings of legitimacy. Mazunya says she’s inspired by her two-year-old niece in creating this play. 

“Twenty years from now, what will her life be like, and how is that different from my own experience?”

Mazunya has many fond memories of the University of Ottawa’s theatre program. She took one acting course in her first year at U of O as an international management student and fell in love with the craft of acting: “I got the bug.”

Several of Mazunya’s professors and directors encouraged her to audition for the prestigious National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal after her graduation from the U of O. She did, and got in, which allowed her to further specialize in theatre creation.

“The [University of Ottawa] theatre department has a lot of people with different interests, so there’s a sort of global look at how we do theatre,” said Mazunya.

“There’s people working in both official languages, and you get to form really close relationships with your professors.” 

Joël Beddows, chair of the U of O theatre department and artistic director of Théatre français de Toronto, was one such professor, He not only suggested Mazunya audition for NTS, but recommended her to Obsidian when they were searching for artists to feature in 21 Black Futures.

“Those connections are invaluable – you stay in touch with people even long after you’ve left the department. Those close circles last a long time,” added Mazunya.

21 Black Futures will begin in February 2021. For more information on Mazunya’s play, as well as the twenty other monodramas being featured, you can check out Obsidian’s website here.