From web page to stage: Theatre Calgary mounts enjoy dependent on Medication Hat man’s memoir

When Mark Sakamoto signed above the legal rights to his memoir, Forgiveness: A Present From My Grandparents, he said he failed to want to get as well entrenched in the procedure of turning it into a phase enjoy.

He required to see the artistry of the theatrical generation unfold in entrance of him.

And as it was staged in Vancouver earlier this 12 months, he mentioned it was surreal.

“To be sitting beside my father and observe a character that is my father stroll on to the stage. To appear down the aisle and see generations of Sakamotos and MacLeans hunting at generations past of Sakamotos and MacLeans was a second that I you should not believe I was geared up for, and variety of couldn’t be prepared for,” he mentioned in an interview on the Calgary Eyeopener.

Mark Sakamoto’s memoir was revealed in 2014. It explores the stories of two of his grandparents caught up in the situations of the Second Environment War.

His maternal grandfather, Ralph MacLean, volunteered to provide overseas and wound up captured by the Japanese army. His paternal grandmother, Mitsue Sakamoto, was forced from her relatives dwelling in Vancouver and despatched to an internment camp in Alberta. Years later on, their little ones would satisfy.

“That’s why I’m sitting down listed here beside you,” Sakamoto claimed.

Two men in army uniforms speak to each other.
Griffin Cork, still left, and Fionn Laird in Forgiveness. Cork plays Ralph MacLean, the author’s maternal grandfather. (Moonrider Productions)

The e book gained the Canada Reads prize in 2018. Soon immediately after, Theatre Calgary artistic director Stafford Arima reported the concept for a theatrical production — a co-generation with the Arts Club Theatre Business in Vancouver — took sort. 

“The story of Forgiveness can take position in Canada, but quite precisely, in Calgary, Alberta, Drugs Hat, Lethbridge and Vancouver,” Arima reported.

“It is a Canadian tale, and for the reason that the key characters lived and breathed in Alberta and in British Columbia, it just felt fitting for us to co-fee this function so that both of our theatres … could experience this spectacle and epic engage in about a time of Canadian history.”

The creation experienced a quick run in Vancouver at the beginning of 2023 ahead of remaining tweaked for its showing in Calgary.

It runs from March 7 to April 1 in the Max Bell Theatre at Arts Commons. The official opening evening is March 10.

Hiro Kanagawa, the playwright at the rear of the manufacturing, mentioned they’ve taken all the things they uncovered from the Vancouver run to make the play even improved.

“All of the modifications that we manufactured are just operating beautifully and have enhanced the display immensely,” he reported.

“With the enjoy, just about every time you place it on, it is really a entire new thing.”

Reworking a memoir

Kanagawa had the job of getting the memoir and reworking it for the stage. He wrote the to start with comprehensive draft at the Banff Centre, and its 1st reading through was at the Medicine Hat Community Library.

With the memoir’s numerous characters and destinations, Kanagawa claimed he desired to uncover a starting off stage where all of the story’s gatherings would start.

“I came to the notion that that central hub could be the supper the place Ralph and Mitsue meet for the initially time, that form of gave me a construction that I could perform with,” he claimed.

Family members sit around a dinner table.
The cast of Forgiveness sits close to a table. (Moonrider Productions)

The story begins and finishes in 1968, ahead of the author, Sakamoto, is born. 

Sakamoto said he’s thrilled for audiences to meet his grandparents through the demonstrate.

“It truly is a story of how they were pushed down, but much more importantly, how they got up and how they refused to lose their human dignity about the course of these injurious a long time,” he mentioned.


Listen | Mark Sakamoto describes memorable times from the manufacturing:

Calgary Eyeopener7:26Forgiveness


The content of the creation is individual to Arima, who stated his father and other household members ended up also interned during the Next Environment War.

He said considering of the quite a few Canadians sent to the camps shows why a story like Forgiveness is important to explain to. 

“We don’t want this to come about all over again. We do not want this strategy of xenophobia and possibly the anxiety of the other to transfer us into a area where we repeat record in any way.”

For Kanagawa, that sentiment has turn into all the a lot more suitable all over the generation of the manufacturing. 

They commenced right before the pandemic began. Kanagawa explained they watched as anti-Asian detest incidents rose. 

“Ralph, at the palms of the Japanese, and Mitsue, at the fingers of the Canadian government … suffered incredible atrocities and racism,” he mentioned. 

“To increase earlier mentioned and in the end to obtain the grace and kindness in their hearts to forgive, I feel that is a really significant message for the periods that we dwell in nowadays.”