The GullFront Cover

ISBN: 9780889226166 | paperback / softback

$17.95 | 128 pages | Pub. Date: 2009 | Edition # 1
5.00 W × 7.38 H × 0.30000000000000004 D inches
Drama | Backlist | Bisac: DRA013000
ISBN 13: 9780889226166 | Rights: WORLD

Winner of the prestigious 2008 Uchimura Naoya Prize, The Gull is the first Canadian play staged in the ancient, ritualized tradition of Japanese Noh. Produced by Vancouver’s Pangaea Arts, and written by award-winning poet and novelist Daphne Marlatt, the play is set in 1950: 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.

An international collaboration, The Gull’s premiere featured: Noh master Akira Matsui, declared an Important Intangible Cultural Asset by Japan in 1998, as the main actor; American Noh expert Richard Emmert who wrote the music; two masks created by Wakayama artist Hakuzan Kubo; and a troupe of professional Noh musicians from Japan.

Winner 2008 Uchimura Naoya Prize

By Daphne Marlatt

Daphne Marlatt was at the centre of the West Coast poetry movement of the 1960s, studying at UBC and with many of Donald Allen’s New American Poets, most notably Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan. Her writing includes prose narratives on the Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver and of Steveston and several poetry books. In early 2006, she was appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition of a lifetime of distinguished service to Canadian culture.

Read more about Daphne Marlatt


Translated by Toyoshi Yoshihara

Toyoshi Yoshihara is an award-winning translator who has worked tirelessly to introduce English-language works of drama to Japanese audiences. A Canadian industrialist, he has translated over seventy Canadian plays into Japanese; heads the Maple Leaf Theatre in Japan; and is an honorary lifetime member of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research.

Read more about Toyoshi Yoshihara


Preface by Richard Emmert

Richard Emmert is the American founder and Artistic Director of Theatre Nohgaku, based in Tokyo and Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania; Director of its Noh Training Project; and Professor of Asian Theater and Music at Musashino University, Tokyo.

Read more about Richard Emmert


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news | 2012-05-11
Daphne Marlatt Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

…into theatre have extended this element. In 2008, The Gull, her contemporary Canadian Noh play, was awarded …


news | 2010-09-08
Daphne Marlatt at the Banff Centre

…(Daphne Marlatt reads a passage from The Gull that includes excerpts from two poems by Roy Miki … Vancouver Poems, Steveston, Ana Historic and The Gull, the first Canadian play staged in the ancient, …


news | 2010-03-30
Getting to Know Noh

…Japanese Canadian internment during World War II. The Gull: The Steveston Noh Project, written by Daphne … “Go home,” back to Mio, Wakayama, Japan. Although The Gull retains the traditional musical structure of a … on the West Coast. For Daphne Marlatt, writing The Gull integrated her two loves of Steveston and Noh. … Richard Emmert considers The Gull to be the first Canadian Noh play. The Gull is …