An award-winning playwright and actor from Port Moody will see a memoir that he adapted for the stage mounted early next year.
Hiro Kanagawa, who clinched the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama for his play Indian Arm, adapted Forgiveness, a true story based on Mark Sakamoto’s book about his grandparents during the Second World War; it won the CBC Canada Reads competition in 2018.
The world premiere of the play runs Jan. 12 to Feb. 12 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver — a co-production by the Arts Club Theatre Company and Theatre Calgary.
Sakamoto’s story tells of his maternal grandfather, Ralph, a Canadian soldier of European descent who spent years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Meanwhile, Sakamoto’s paternal grandmother, Mitsue, was a Japanese–Canadian who was interned by the government in Canada.
Despite their traumatizing experiences, the two formed a bond after WWII and healed their divisions, showing strength and love over hate for their family.
“My stage adaptation of Mark Sakamoto’s beloved and best-selling family memoir, Forgiveness, is not a note-for-note rendition of the book's favourite scenes and greatest hits,” said Kanagawa in a news release.
“But it does hope to capture the emotional core of what made Mark’s book so powerful in the first place: The love of home and family, the faith in human goodness, the courage to fight for what is right and the grace to forgive.”
Kanagawa added, “Forgiveness is a beautiful Canadian story, a vital piece of our history and it is all the more inspirational and relevant today given the social and political divisiveness we currently face.”
To deepen the conversation — and to mark 2022 as the 80th year since the Japanese–Canadian internment in B.C. — the Arts Club will host a panel on Jan. 6, 2023, at the Museum of Vancouver (1100 Chestnut St., Vancouver) from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
(Admission is $10–$20 via museumofvancouver.ca/finding-forgiveness).
Called Finding Forgiveness, that event is also in partnership with the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre and the UBC Library.
Kanagawa is on the panel along with Carolyn Nakagawa, Vivian Rygnestad and Grace Eiko Thomson, who will discuss the question: “What can stories from the stage teach us about the ongoing legacies of this history?”
• For tickets to the play Forgiveness at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage (2750 Granville St., Vancouver) — starring Yoshié Bancroft as Mitsue Sakamoto and Griffin Cork as Ralph MacLean — go to artsclub.com.