The Gull

Written by:

Daphne Marlatt, Japanese translation by Toyoshi Yoshihara

Cast Size:

Roles For:

  • Men: 4
  • Women: 1


Asian Canadian Theatre


Canadian History
World War II


60 min.

Year Written:



“Wartime restrictions on interned Japanese Canadians have finally been lifted, allowing them to return to the coast. It is a dramatization of the historical link between the fishing town of Steveston, home to many of these first, second and third generation Japanese Canadians, and Mio, the coastal village in Wakayama from which many of their ancestors originally emigrated.

Inspired by a ghost story a Nisei fisherman had told during Marlatt’s work on the history of Steveston in the 1970s, the ghost in the play is seen by one of the two fishermen as the spirit of his mother who had perished in the internment camps, and as a gull by the other. The iconic centre of the play, the gull is common to Japan and North America. Connected to a fishing superstition that if you see a seagull splashing in the waves it means a storm is coming, it also takes full advantage of the dense intertextuality and multiple meanings of the poetic language of classical Noh theatre. To “be gulled” is to “be taken in,” a key to the play’s storyline of a people deluded that their right to citizenship by birth would protect them, their homes and their families from the State.” (From the Talonbooks Website)


MAEJITE (Shite of Act I): a young Japanese woman/gull

NOCHIJITE (Shite of Act II): a middle-aged issei woman (born in Japan)

WAKI: a nisei fisherman (born in Canada) now in his late twenties

WAKITSURE: a younger brother of the Waki

AI-KYŌGEN: older issei fisherman in his late fifties

CHORUS (Ji): 4-6 male singers

MUSICIANS (all dressed traditionally):

Ōtsuzumi (hip drum) player

Kotsuzumi (shoulder drum) player

Taiko (stick drum) player

Nohkan (Noh flute) player

First Produced:

Pangea Arts, Vancouver, 2006.


The Gull is available through Talonbooks.

To view more plays like this, click here.


Winner of the 2008 Uchimura Naoya Prize.