Stafford Arima

Theatre Director / Artistic Director, Theatre Calgary

Stafford Arima is a graduate of York University, where he received the Dean’s Prize for Excellence in Creative Work. He is currently the Artistic Director of Theatre Calgary. Selected directing credits include — Broadway: Allegiance, Seussical (Associate Director), A Class Act (Associate Director); West End: Ragtime (Olivier nominated); Stratford Festival of Canada: Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris; USA: Altar Boyz, Carrie, The Tin Pan Alley Rag, A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim, Dial M for Murder, Candide, Red Velvet; Canada: Forgiveness, A Christmas Carol, Billy Elliot, Mary & Max; International: Bhangra Nation, The Secret Garden, Broadway Dreams.

In 1993, I began a decade-long journey of mentoring and assisting on musicals. When I think back thirty-one years, my heart is so full reminiscing on the educators and theatre practitioners who led with generosity, kindness, and trust – women and men including Ron Singer (York University), Dene Lettman and Carol Welton (Kenton Drive Public School), Vincent Liff (Casting Director), Fred Hanson (Production Supervisor, Miss Saigon), Terrence McNally (Playwright), Lynn Ahrens (Lyricist), Frank Galati (Director), Stephen Flaherty (Composer), and Harold Prince (Director). I found solace in the company of these mentors who gave me space to escape from the realities of the real world and encouraged me to find truth within the world of make-believe. I’ve carried with me the voices and teachings of this group of people and have been able to apply those awakenings in my career and my artistic practice. Most recently, I had the privilege of directing a new play by Hiro Kanagawa who adapted the memoir “Forgiveness” by Mark Sakamoto. This production was near and dear to my heart since the Japanese Canadian internment touched my family in a literal and visceral way. To be able to collaborate with Hiro, Mark, and a cast and creative team of stellar Asian-Canadian artists was a dream come true. Having directed the Broadway musical Allegiance in 2015 with a cast and creative team of Asian American talents, I was tremendously excited to work with Asian-Canadians on Forgiveness. Recently returning from the UK where I had the joy of directing a new musical called Bhangra Nation, I was moved by the South-Asian cast, and the many artists on the creative team that helped create this story of identity and embracing our differences. All these projects brought understanding, awareness, and connection to my life in ways that will never be forgotten. All our stories are rich, complex, universal, and unique – as are the artists, and I am eager to continue the adventures of telling Asian stories from all over the world.