The Guru of Chai's Jacob Rajan on his new play, Kiss The Fish
Actor Jacob Rajan talks about his new play, Kiss the Fish, opening on Saturday at Q Theatre.
In Bali, there is a master mask carver called Kodi who coaxes faces from the pule tree. Kodi selects only branches that grow above cemeteries as the hard, light wood is supposedly imbued with spiritual ancestry. Jacob Rajan is not too sure about that, but he does know that when the four actors in Kiss the Fish put on the masks, they immediately disappear into their characters.
He finds it a buzz to watch. Especially since he’s used to being the sole actor in Indian Ink’s previous hits Krishnan’s Dairy and The Guru of Chai. “It’s still a surprise to see their real faces when they take their masks off,” he says.
The new play’s title comes from an old Indian proverb: “Kiss the fish you have, not the one that got away.” Rajan reckons it’s a zen philosophy that aptly suits an actor’s unpredictable lifestyle. “You can dream about celebrity or the fantastic film offer that’s coming around the corner but you’re not actually committing to the project you’ve got right now.”
Rajan’s impressive career in Indian Ink was acknowledged this year when he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, but he’s quick to pass on the credit to his co-writer and director for the past 16 years, Justin Lewis. “I’d be nothing if not standing on his shoulders.”
They tour relentlessly, and have been signed by heavyweight American manager David Lieberman, who also represents the Kronos Quartet and Tim Robbins’ theatre group. After the local tour, Indian Ink is heading Stateside.
Kiss the Fish: Indian Ink Theatre Company, Q Theatre, September 14 to October 5, qtheatre.co.nz
First published Metro, September 2013. Photographed by Stephen Langdon.