Theatre Calgary Opens World Premiere of FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness previewed March 7-9, and runs until April 1 in the Max Bell Theatre at Arts Commons.

Theatre Calgary Opens World Premiere of FORGIVENESS

On Friday, March 10, Theatre Calgary in a joint presentation with the Arts Club Theatre Company (Vancouver) is thrilled to open the world premiere of the heartfelt and true story of Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto, stage adaptation by Hiro Kanagawa, and directed by Theatre Calgary's Artistic Director Stafford Arima in Calgary.

Based on the 2018 Canada Reads-winning novel of the same name, Forgiveness is a memoir of Sakamoto's grandparents and their harrowing experiences during the Second World War. Mark's maternal grandfather (Ralph MacLean) was a Canadian soldier who spent years as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp. His paternal grandmother (Mitsue Sakamoto) was one of the thousands of Japanese Canadians interned by the Canadian government during the war. In the face of tremendous adversity, they chose not to live a life of anger but instead to embrace forgiveness.

"This show is very personal to me, as my father's family (the Arimas) were interned in British Columbia, and my uncle (Bruce Colette McDonald) served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as Leading Aircraftsman for three years. Their collective and individual lives were ultimately touched by the events of World War II," says director Arima. "Hiro has imbued Mark's memoir with a heavy dose of theatre poetry to allow these captivating groups of people to live and flourish on our stage. Forgiveness is not only a love-letter to the theatre and the intriguing ways we can tell stories, but it's also a thought-provoking piece that holds a mirror up to the world we live in today and asks important questions (without forcing an answer) about culture, tradition, xenophobia, and belonging."

"My stage adaptation of Mark's book is not a note-for-note rendition of the book's favourite scenes and greatest hits, but it does hope to capture the emotional core of what made the 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," says Governor General's Award-winning playwright Kanagawa. "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."

The cast of Forgiveness features Yoshie Bancroft (Mitsue Sakamoto) and Griffin Cork (Ralph MacLean). This is the Theatre Calgary debut for Bancroft, and the Max Bell stage debut for Cork (who was previously a part of Theatre Calgary's Shakespeare by the Bow). Joining them are Jerod Blake (Mortimer, Father, Recruiter, Mr. Archibald), Daniel Fong (Stan, Pat), June Fukumura (Miyoko, Mrs. Yamamoto), Manami Hara (Tomi), Alana Hawley Purvis (Phyllis, Darlene, Mother, Mrs. Rutt), Fionn Laird (Cooper, Hastings Guard), Jacob Leonard (Deighton, Adams, Wedding Officer), Isaac Li (Ron, Ichiro), Allison Lynch (Diane, Socialite, Nurse, Woman on Train), Jovanni Sy (Yosuke, Kato, Launderer), and Kevin Takahide Lee (Hideo Sakamoto). The swings on the show are Howard Dai, Charlie Gould, Katelyn Morishita, and Bernardo Pacheco.

Along with director Arima, the creative team for Forgiveness includes Stephen Drover (Dramaturg), Pam Johnson (Set Design), Joanna Yu (Costume Design), John Webber (Lighting Design), Joshua D. Reid (Sound Design), Reza Jacobs (Original Composition), Cindy Mochizuki (Video Design & Animation), Chimerik 似不像 Collective and Sammy Chien (New System Video Projection Design), Mike Kovac (Fight Director & Stunt Coordinator), Jessica Anne Nelson (Intimacy Director), Julie Tamiko Manning (Cultural Consultant & Dialect Coach: Japanese Canadian), Yayoi Hirano (Japanese Language Consultant), Jane MacFarlane (Dialect Coach; East Coast Canadian), Peter Colenutt (Military Consultant), Howard Dai (Assistant Director), Ryan Cormack (Assistant Set Design), Melicia Zaini (Assistant Costume Design), Bronwyn Bowlby (Assistant Sound Design), Brianna Johnson (Assistant Figth Director), Shelley Stewart Hunt (1960s Dancing & Celtic Jig Choreography), Gregory Pember (Swing Dance Choreography), Cherry Wen Wen Lu (Animation Assistant), Vanka Salim (Chimerik Intern Assistant Design), Erika Morey (Stage Manager), Peter Jotkus (Assistant Stage Manager), Brianna Diodati (Apprentice Stage Manager). For more information and biographies of our artists, please visit

Forgiveness comes to Theatre Calgary via the Arts Club Theatre Company, where the show ran January 12 - February 12, 2023 as part of the joint production. Forgiveness previewed March 7-9, and runs until April 1 in the Max Bell Theatre at Arts Commons. The official opening night for the show is Friday, March 10. Performances begin at 7:30pm (Sun-Thurs), 8:00pm (Fri-Sat) and 2:00pm (matinees). Tickets start as low as $40, and can be purchased at

Founded in 1969, Theatre Calgary is Calgary's first and largest professional theatrical company. Our mission is to stimulate, provoke, and delight through ambitious programming created to ignite local, national, and international engagement. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Stafford Arima and Executive Director Maya Choldin, we aim to stand amongst the best theatres globally as a leader in innovative, impactful, and diverse programming.


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