December 3rd, 2021

‘Forgiveness’ in the hands of Canadian playwright

By Mo Cranker on October 9, 2018.

Playwright Hiro Kanagawa is currently working on bringing Mark Sakamoto's book "Forgiveness" to the stage. Kanagawa says he is very excited for the project and hopes to have a first draft of his script done next year.

Mark Sakamoto’s book “Forgiveness” has been on quite a ride this year and it is currently being reworked into a full-length play by Canadian actor and playwright Hiro Kanagawa.

Kanagawa will be in the Hat later this month on the 25th for an evening event at the Medicine Hat Public Library. He will be reading excerpts from some of his past plays as well as from his adaptation of “Forgiveness.”

“I found out I was going to be taking this project on earlier in the year, likely in late spring,” Kanagawa told the News. “Mark and his agent were looking for someone to adapt his book into a play, they approached my agent and that’s how we’re here now.

“I was absolutely thrilled and excited to find out that I was working on this — it’s going to be a great project for me.”

RELATED: Sakamoto’s book headed to TV

During his trip to the Hat Kanagawa will be speaking with some of Sakamoto’s relatives to get more insight into the time periods and events the book touches on. Kanagawa says his own background relates a bit to Sakamoto’s story.

“Being Japanese-Canadian myself, this is something that interested me,” he said. “The Japanese internment was such a pivotal moment in Japanese-Canadian history, so it’s definitely a story that I’m wanting to bring to the stage and excited to bring to the stage.

“I’m going to be meeting with some of Mark’s relatives while I’m visiting the city — it’ll help me get even more information on all the events the play will cover.”

Kanagawa says after his trip to Alberta, he will be settling in and giving a first draft his complete attention.

“I’m hoping the first draft is done early in the New Year — we’ll see,” he said. “After that it’s a year or two more (years) of development before the finished product will be ready for the stage.”

Kanagawa says it is far too early to think about potential cast members, but thinks the book will translate well to the stage.

“The book is a sprawling epic with so many different people in it and some really difficult locations,” he said. “Things like battlefields, prisoner of war camps and beet fields in the middle of Alberta may not be what people expect to be easily translated to the stage, but that’s the art of adaptation.

“I don’t think people will want me to make a greatest hits version of “Forgiveness” with all of their favourite scenes in a play — what I’m interested in and what I think audiences will be interested in is a more impressionistic approach.

“I want to get to the emotional core of the source material rather than just re-hashing the best parts of the book.”

Kanagawa says the book’s message is an important one.

“Being able to forgive is so important,” said Kanagawa. “It’s just such an important lesson that we can tell to Canada and the rest of the world — especially with things being how they are now, it’s more important than ever.”

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