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Written By Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis

Take a wild ride to paradise with Indian Ink’s brand new play.  Master storyteller Jacob Rajan weaves 1980s Mumbai nightclubs, mad dogs and ice cream into the mystery of India’s vanishing vultures. Prepare for laughter, exquisite puppetry and a dash of Indian disco – this show will blow your mind and melt your heart. Based on an incredible true story.

The skies over Mumbai once teemed with vultures but now they have disappeared.  A country boy arrives in India’s most exciting city and befriends a young woman from the enigmatic Parsi community – a people whose faith is entwined with the vulture.  As the new friends are drawn deeper into the puzzle of the missing birds, the kulfi shop which sits at the heart of their world becomes an unlikely battleground, changing their lives forever.

Like kulfi (ice cream’s Indian ancestor), this show is richly layered and impossible to resist.

Indian Ink has brought together the award-winning team behind their hits Krishnan’s Dairy and Guru of Chai and is delighted to introduce you to puppet maestro Jon Coddington.

We’re lucky to be in one of the few places in the world where live performance is still possible and we can’t wait to share this premier season with you.

 

“Some of the best theatre in the world” – NZ Herald

This show is recommended for ages 11+

Please remember to arrive 10-15 minutes early to collect your tickets at TAPAC as there is a strict lockout/delayed admittance policy to ensure that the performance isn’t disturbed.

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Private Show Information

What do you get?

The Company brings lighting, set, costumes, and props to your selected venue (e.g. home or office) to create a truly magical occasion for your invited audience. There is no limit to the number of guests you can invite - as long as there's enough space for them and the performers. The Artists are Arts Laureate Jacob Rajan and talented young musician Adam Ogle, supported by our stage manager who will ensure that all technical and production elements happen without a hiccup. The performance lasts 80 minutes and as an added bonus, if you wish it, Jacob is happy to chat with your guests after the show.

What does it cost?

The all-inclusive fee for this wonderul and unforgettable experience is only NZ$6,500 including GST.

Cast & Crew

Jacob Rajan

Writer & Performer

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Jacob Rajan

Company Director, Writer & Performer

Jacob is an Arts Foundation Laureate and founding partner of Indian Ink. He collaborated to create Krishnan’s Dairy, The Candlestickmaker, The Pickle King, The Dentist’s Chair, The Guru of Chai and Kiss the Fish and has performed them throughout New Zealand and internationally.

Jacob won “Best Actor” in the 2010 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for ‘The Guru of Chai’. He has also received an accolade for acting excellence and was nominated for the Stage Award for Best Actor at the   Edinburgh Fringe. Jacob has featured on New Zealand TV series (Outrageous Fortune and Shortland Street). In 2013 Jacob was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the New Year’s Honours List.

Jacob’s family originates in Kerala, Southern India. He was born in Malaysia and immigrated to New Zealand at the age of four. Jacob has a degree in microbiology, a teacher’s diploma and is a graduate of Toi Whakaari – The New Zealand Drama School.

David Ward

Musician

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David Ward

Musician, Compser and Musical Director

A Jazz Graduate from the Wellington Conservatorium of Music, David has twice won “Most Outstanding Composer” at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for his work on Guru of Chai and Kiss The Fish.

Jon Coddington

Puppeteer

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Jon Coddington

Jon Coddington promotes himself as a theatre designer and collaborator, illustrator, animator and sculptor, and has been primarily working as a puppeteer and puppet maker for 8 years. Highlights include sell-out Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin, Adelaide, Perth, and Edinburgh Fringe Festival hit Puppet Fiction (2012-18), a marionette homage to the movie Pulp Fiction, and the manipulation and making of marionettes and puppets for Fat Freddy’s Drop’s music videos ‘Clean The House’ and ‘Special Edition’. Recently he has worked in screen puppetry with training by Muppeteer Peter Linz at Whoa Studios in Auckland, created puppets for the New Zealand Arts Festival show ‘The Devil’s Half Acre’, NZ Comedy Festival show ‘Hand To God’, and recently created puppets and performed in Silo theatre’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’.

Justin Lewis

Writer & Director

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Justin Lewis

Company Director, Writer & Artistic Director

Justin is a founding partner of Indian Ink and collaborated with Jacob Rajan to create the company’s works: Krishnan’s Dairy, The Candlestickmaker, The Pickle King, The Dentist’s Chair, Guru of Chai and Kiss the Fish.  Indian Ink’s productions have won numerous awards including two Edinburgh Fringe First Awards and Three production of the Year Awards in New Zealand. Justin has produced numerous national and international tours.  He is Deputy Chair of Q Theatre and has been heavily involved in its development from the beginning. In 2008 he received a Kaupapa Oranga Award for his services to theatre. Justin is a graduate of the John Bolton Theatre School and University of Auckland.

Murray Edmond

Dramaturge

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Murray Edmond

Dramaturg

Murray has been dramaturg on all of Indian Ink’s productions. A poet and founder of Town and Country players (NZ), Murray has recently retired from his role as Professor of Drama at Auckland University where he headed the Drama course.

John Verryt

Set Design

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John Verryt

Set & Costume Design

John has worked on all of Indian Ink’s productions to date. With over 30 years experience he is one of New Zealand’s leading performance designers with an extensive portfolio of work including designs for NBR New Zealand Opera, Black Grace Dance Company, Douglas Wright and Auckland Theatre Company.

Elizabeth Whiting

Costume Design

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Elizabeth Whiting

COSTUME DESIGNER 2018

Background
Elizabeth has designed costumes for New Zealand Opera, Auckland Theatre Company, NZ Festival and Auckland Festival, Silo, Court Theatre, Red Leap and Okareka Dance, Black Grace, Douglas Wright Dance, Michael Parmenter, Atimira, NZ Dance Company and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. She designed costumes for Pop-Up Theatre London for Edinburgh Festival.

Elizabeth has designed the costumes for The World of Wearable Art core show in Wellington for the last six years.

Awards
In 2010 she won the Chapman Tripp Costume Design Award for The Arrival. (Red Leap). She represented New Zealand at the Prague Design Quadrennial in 2003 with her costumes for ‘Falstaff’, and again in 2007 with a team of designers who created the exhibition Blow. Her designs for Marriage of Figaro have just been seen in Seattle and her costume designs for Tosca in Perth had a great reception.
Elizabeth designed Bonefeeder (Auckland Festival), Uncle Vanya (Court Theatre), Kororareka (Red Leap), Spirit House (Nightsong Productions), Kiss the Sky (NZDC) and Nell Gwynn (ATC) in 2017. She also designed Blonde Poison (Plumb Productions) and Orchids (Foster Group).
Hudson and Halls Live, The Mooncake and the Kumara, and Te Po are three shows which were successfully remounted last year using her costume designs.

Elizabeth has designed Under the Mountain (ATC) this year and is in the process of designing The Cherry Orchard (ATC) and La Boheme (NZ Opera)

David Ward

Composer & Sound Design

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David Ward

Musician, Compser and Musical Director

A Jazz Graduate from the Wellington Conservatorium of Music, David has twice won “Most Outstanding Composer” at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for his work on Guru of Chai and Kiss The Fish.

Jon Coddington

Puppet Design & Maker

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Jon Coddington

Jon Coddington promotes himself as a theatre designer and collaborator, illustrator, animator and sculptor, and has been primarily working as a puppeteer and puppet maker for 8 years. Highlights include sell-out Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin, Adelaide, Perth, and Edinburgh Fringe Festival hit Puppet Fiction (2012-18), a marionette homage to the movie Pulp Fiction, and the manipulation and making of marionettes and puppets for Fat Freddy’s Drop’s music videos ‘Clean The House’ and ‘Special Edition’. Recently he has worked in screen puppetry with training by Muppeteer Peter Linz at Whoa Studios in Auckland, created puppets for the New Zealand Arts Festival show ‘The Devil’s Half Acre’, NZ Comedy Festival show ‘Hand To God’, and recently created puppets and performed in Silo theatre’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’.

Andrew Potvin

Lighting Design, Production & Tour Manager

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Andrew Potvin

Andrew is the Director of Andrew Potvin Designs Ltd which specialises in tour management, business development and lighting design. He has a professional theatre portfolio spanning eighteen years across New Zealand and his homeland of the United States of America. Andrew started his New Zealand portfolio in Auckland as Technical Manager of the Basement Theatre (2011), and has gone on to work with companies such as Q Theatre, Indian Ink Theatre Company and Auckland Theatre Company, mainly in design and production roles. With Tour-Makers he has co-produced national tours of The White Guitar, Triumphs and Other Alternatives, The Book of Everything, Modern Maori Quartet, Daffodils, Live Live Cinema’s Little Shop of Horrors and The Mooncake and the Kumara. Recent design credits include Auckland Theatre Company’s Guys and Dolls and Opera Factory’s The Medium.

In 2019 Andrew hits the road with Indian Ink Theatre Company as Production and Stage Manager for their international and national touring of Mrs Krishnan’s Party.

Andrew is a member of ETNZ, EVANZ and MTNZ .

Inkspiration

  • Justin's Notes
  • Jacob's Notes
  • David's Notes
  • Jon's Notes
  • Andrew's Notes
  • Murray's Notes

This show was inspired by Ernest Becker’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Denial of Death” but it really found its form when Jacob and I were in Mumbai last year. There we discovered a city full of life, rich with diverse cultures and we learned of the plight of India’s vultures. It’s strange now to think that we don’t know when we’ll next be able to travel anywhere!

My view of vultures was formed by my western culture. I dismissed them as harbingers of death, brutishly ugly and to be feared. What I discovered was a creature whose most repulsive features are entirely functional, that does mankind an incredible service by cleansing the environment and in flight is one of the most magnificent birds on earth.

Becker argues that culture is designed to protect us from the reality of our mortality and in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition there’s a practice of meditating each day on your death.  Strange ideas, but maybe by contemplating our mortality we can appreciate life more fully. Like the vulture, there is beauty to be found in the things we fear.

Nobody noticed the disappearance of India’s vultures until it was too late.  It’s the fastest extinction of all time and I feel great sorrow at the loss of these wonderful birds.  But I find hope in the way people from around the world are working to save them.  Humans achieve incredible things through co-operation.  That’s one of the reasons I love theatre – it’s a collaborative art form.

So, as we gather together in the theatre tonight, I am enormously grateful.  In the words of Joni Mitchell “don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

It’s funny to think that we started this company based on a love of mask. It was such a niche thing back then.  Who’d have thought that masks would become so popular?

In those early years I suffered from such an imposter syndrome that I would often use the programme notes to apologise in advance for causing offence. As a playwright I’m necessarily led by my curiosity. I’m curious about things I don’t know about and then I research them and write about them as if I do. Which, of course, I don’t. Not really.

My apology on this occasion is to the Parsi community. If you haven’t heard of them you’re not alone but I can almost guarantee that you’ve been influenced by at least one. Parsis have made an enormous contribution to India and the world. In politics, industry, medicine, finance, science, music, art and theatre this ethnic group has been extraordinarily influential out of all proportion to their numbers.

The eclectic bunch of Parsis portrayed in this play are entirely fictional and I hope cause no offense to a people I hold in extremely high regard.

If you’re reading this and happen to be Parsi I cling to one generalisation about your kin I dearly wish to be true: they have a great sense of humour.

Thanks for coming. I hope you enjoy the show.

I am very pleased to be working on this new play, my sixth Indian Ink collaboration as composer and eighth show in total. Each new Indian Ink production presents new challenges, new instrumentation, new techniques and technology, and Paradise has been no different! Significant this time around has been the move away from live instruments, and much more atmospheric sound design. The lack of physical props and minimal set, means that sound effects play a huge role in defining the sense of place and atmosphere. This has meant delving into hundreds of sound effects and many, many hours editing and mixing to create the sound world. I’ve designed the show to have speakers surrounding the audience so that sound can come from all directions, both to immerse people in the world and also play with their perceptions. This show also contains the most instrument layering of any Indian Ink show, particularly in the fun Club Sutra Disco scene, which was a great challenge and joy to record.

Despite not seeing me on stage as one usually would in an Indian ink show, I assure you that everything you hear has been created by me, and I am performing it from behind the audience.  All music is created on my computer, both for the bigger recorded musical pieces as well as for the live thematic music. For at least these early seasons I will maintain the liveness of the experience by triggering all sound effects live to sync with Jacob’s performance. Similarly, the thematic music is allowed to breathe with the actor and the lights by performing sampled virtual instruments on a piano keyboard.  As a musician more used to having my fingers on strings rather than a computer mouse, this has been a huge learning curve in making the technology malleable enough to feel and respond, despite the slight distance one inevitably feels without a banjo in one’s hands! I look forward to this development season and seeing things grow as they always do once a show find itself in front of a real live audience! I hope you enjoy!

When I was approached by Justin and John about creating a vulture puppet I was immediately daunted by the project, so I knew that this would be something I’d be interested in taking on. Making puppets on a large scale is difficult enough, and to build a large carnivorous bird was something I hadn’t done before. In my work I study the anatomy and try to imitate organic qualities of movement mechanically, and birds are a mechanical masterpiece in that regard. One of the main challenges I faced was the balance of motion and aesthetic, as weight was really a defining factor and any features may add complications to the functionality. Through much trial and error, creative discussions and happy accidents, Gerry was born using plywood, cane, muslin, resin and late nights. I set out to discover the beauty in this beast, and hopefully shed some light on the terrible plight facing these creatures.

What a privilege it is to make my Indian Ink lighting design debut with Paradise or the Impermanence of Ice Cream. Indian Ink Theatre Company have incredible talent on and off the stage (and office) who are amongst my favourite to collaborate with. Justin and Jacob’s development process is agile, focused and supportive.

Designing Paradise or the Impermanence of Ice Cream certainly has been a positive experience. John Verryt’s versatile set and the utilization of rear shadow puppetry/slides is incredibly unique resulting in an intriguing use of very modern technology and old-school techniques. The critical colouring of Elizabeth Whiting’s costume design has been incredibly lighting friendly and collaborative. David’s sound design provided the perfect atmosphere to work with and drive some inspirational choices along the way.

Choices for my design were driven by supporting the script, keeping warmth/energy on Jacob (always good to light the star!) and integral technical detail to avoid getting light where we don’t want it. I look forward to continuing the development of this work with the creative team throughout the TAPAC season and into 2021 touring.

My role as Dramaturge is to question, to critique, and even to make suggestions, during the two years the script is being written. Draft after draft. Response after response. Each time, a discovery  – each time, a problem!

Dramaturging for Paradise meant playing Virgil to two Dantes, as we discovered Kutisar’s inferno. We knew Kutisar (from The Guru of Chai), but not his avian guide-spirit. Writing a play, you imagine a world in a crisis situation – and you work out the consequences of that crisis.

A man and a bird, a place full of memories – mystery and urgency! Then the place filled with sounds. We first hear sound when we are in the womb. Is the last sense working before we die our hearing? The play’s soundscape became a living character, evoking Kutisar’s past, evoking Bombay/Mumbai, bringing us the wingbeat of the Vulture.

In plays, characters change: the ugly duckling becomes the beautiful swan. They don’t just change in the plot; they also change in the audience’s minds. At the beginning we may be sure what we think; as the play plays out we grow puzzled; then we think again. At the end, we have made a discovery.

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