Surrey-raised Tetsuro Shigematsu wrote and stars in “1 Hour Photo,” a Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s production to be presented online by Surrey Civic Theatres on April 23-24. (submitted photo/Raymond Shum)

Surrey-raised Tetsuro Shigematsu wrote and stars in “1 Hour Photo,” a Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s production to be presented online by Surrey Civic Theatres on April 23-24. (submitted photo/Raymond Shum)


‘This Japanese kid who grew up in Whalley’ is thrilled to return with acclaimed ‘1 Hour Photo’

City’s Digital Stage to show Tetsuro Shigematsu’s solo portrait of Mas Yamamoto

Surrey Civic Theatres’ virtual staging of “1 Hour Photo” represents a sort of homecoming for Tetsuro Shigematsu, who wrote and stars in the Governor General’s Award-nominated drama.

A pre-recorded film of the solo show will hit the city’s Digital Stage April 23-24, nightly at 7 p.m., as part of a series designed “to help people staying home connect with the performing arts” during the pandemic.

The online event is an exciting one for Shigematsu, he said.

“You know, I’m just this Japanese kid who grew up in Whalley,” he told the Now-Leader, “and to be able to go all over the world with these shows is significant. But to come back to my hometown like this, my old stomping grounds, yeah, that really feels like coming full-circle, something I had never anticipated doing. That’s really cool for me.”

For a “pay what you can” ticket, both performances include a post-show chat with Shigematsu, who grew up in a home near Surrey Memorial Hospital and spent days learning to swim and running the track at Bear Creek Park. Today, he lives in the Cambie Village area of Vancouver.

(Story continues below Facebook post)

Shigematsu’s most recent solo piece, “1 Hour Photo” is heralded as a moving portrait of Mas Yamamoto, a Japanese-Canadian internment camp prisoner who later helped build the Distant Early Warning Line in the Canadian Arctic during the Cold War. The biography also made for a 112-page paperback available on

For a pandemic-era “virtual tour” of six theatres this spring, including Surrey’s deal, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre company collaborated with Brightlight Pictures on a 75-minute “cinematic adaptation” of Shigematsu’s script.

“They’re a top-flight local production company – they do shows for Netflix,” he said of Brightlight.

“I use a lot of cameras in my show but they’re just GoPro cameras that fit in the palm of my hand,” Shigematsu continued. “But their cameras, the cinematic digital cameras, are, you know, the size of Harley Davidson motorcycles. To have that right in your face took some doing on my part, in terms of trying to remember that it’s a piece of theatre, a story. That was an amazing experience, and the final product is just tremendous. I don’t think you’ll see many theatre adaptations that are so lush and so beautifully shot.”

(Story continues below tweets)

The production is not to be confused with “One Hour Photo,” the 2002 thriller that starred Robin Williams as a troubled photo developer. “Yeah, not the same story,” Shigematsu said with a laugh.

So far, Shigematsu’s impressive resumé includes writing for “This Hour Has 22 Minutes,” being the first person-of-colour to host a daily national radio program in Canada, and rave reviews for his “Empire of the Son” solo work, which played to more than 20,000 people in 18 cities.

He typically attributes the start of his theatre career to his time in Montreal, during his final year of high school, but paused when questioned about that timeline. Turns out, Shigematsu’s very first exposure to theatre was doing improv while in Grade 10 at the old West Whalley Junior High.

“I couldn’t believe how much fun that was,” he recalled, “but I didn’t think of it as any kind of art form, it was just a way to make people laugh.”

One day, Shigematsu would love to hit a real stage in Surrey, in person, not only the city’s Digital Stage.

“For sure it would have been more amazing to actually be on stage at Surrey Arts Centre with this show,” says the domain-name holder of “When I was in Grade 11, I had my artwork in the gallery for their yearly exhibit, the high school show, so I remember that. Hopefully, fingers crossed, in the future I can be there for my next solo work, which would be a dream come true.”

To watch Surrey Civic Theatres’ online showing of “1 Hour Photo,” visit

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

BooksJapanese CanadiansLive theatre

Just Posted

This photo of murder victim Paul Prestbakmo was taken on a recent birthday, not far from where he was found with fatal wounds in August 2019. (Cory Brideau photo)
Verdict expected today for youths accused of killing South Surrey mechanic

Paul Prestbakmo was stabbed to death in August 2019

Semiahmoo First Nation archeology manager Don Welsh (left) sifts through shell midden at a Crescent Beach site in August 2019. (File photo)
Semiahmoo First Nation to repatriate 200 ancestors

B.C. grant funding return of remains from Simon Fraser University

The City of Surrey partnered with the Work Zone Safety Alliance last year to remind drivers to slow down in construction zones. (File photo)
White Rock, Surrey motorists asked to slow down in ‘cone zones’

Provincewide campaign encouraging residents to be mindful of construction workers

White Rock RCMP received more than 80 calls for service between Friday and Sunday night (May 14-16, 2021). (Aaron Hinks file photo)
White Rock beachgoers fined for fires, public intoxication

Majority of weekend visitors were well-behaved, police say

Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society volunteers stand on the train platform in Cloverdale in 2020. A new exhibit about FVHRS and Surrey’s train history opens at the Museum of Surrey June 2. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
New exhibition on Surrey’s train history to open at Museum of Surrey

Separate two-day event welcomes kids June 25-26

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
14-year-old boy killed in serious ATV crash near 100 Mile House

Youth was travelling with a group of peers when the incident occurred last Friday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Most Read