Founded by Justin Lewis and Jacob Rajan (MNZM) 26 years ago, Indian Ink is now one of Aotearoa’s most successful theatre companies – winning 13 national and international awards, critical acclaim, standing ovations and sell out seasons. Since 1997 their original plays have enriched the lives of over 510,000 people. Alongside a whanau of multi-talented artists, Indian Ink creates vibrant, fresh, culturally diverse theatre that combines artful storytelling, mischievous wit and theatrical magic in a way that celebrates our differences and connects us through our shared humanity.
A Note from Justin
I can’t hold a tune but I love putting my headphones on and singing along when I’m cleaning the house. Somehow scrubbing the toilet bowl becomes almost fun with the right musical accompaniment. We call on song to help us with life’s celebrations and memorials and sometimes we need it just to get through the day.
The human voice is the most extraordinary instrument and having a stage full of choral singers has been a wonderful theatrical provocation. This show is a step into the unknown because each night we have a different group of singers; they’ve learned their songs but know nothing of the story. I’m super excited to see what happens.
Most of the glory in theatre goes to the people on stage but Indian Ink has a whole office of people dedicated to the less glamorous tasks that make it possible for Jacob and me to create work. I want to recognise them and in particular, the extraordinary Jude Froude. Jude not only does a mean tax return and functional analysis but also knows how to dance around the office when a grant application is successful.
I’d also like to thank all the singers who are joining us, with special gratitude to Viva Voce and John Rosser who so generously workshopped our ideas and helped bring this show to life.
A Note from Jacob
I love my work. In researching this show, I realise I’m privileged to say that. Apparently 85% of the world’s one billion full-time employed are unhappy at work. If you’re putting in an 8 hour day then that’s a third of your life doing something you don’t enjoy – which is kind of, simultaneously, horrific and absurd.
In 1942, Albert Camus, wrote an essay called Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus) in which he introduces his philosophy of the absurd. According to Camus, the absurd lies in the juxtaposition between the fundamental human need to attribute meaning to life and the “unreasonable silence” of the universe in response. Camus compares the absurdity of man’s life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes, “The struggle itself…is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
So, we took that “unreasonable silence” and filled it with a “bewildered choir,” cast in our play as office workers, but with no idea of the job they do or the story they are in; we mined the inherent absurdity in controlling time and in valuing one person’s time over another; and we wrote this play as a tribute to cleaners everywhere doing the dirty work that needs to be done. Thanks for coming to the show. I hope you enjoy our work as much as we do.
NEIL – a Manager
JOY – a Cleaner
ZARA – an Office Worker
VIJAY – a New Zealand Indian Entrepreneur
OFFICE WORKERS – a chorus of office workers
Humming Chorus – Giacomo Puccini
Angels from the realms of glory (excerpt) – traditional arrangement David Willcocks
Thilelo – traditional
Mātangi – Rev. Wharetini Rangi, arranged by Robert Wiremu
Something in the water – *Brooke Fraser, arranged by Penny Dodd
Jai Ho! – **A.R. Rahman, arranged by Josh Clark
Ode to Joy – Ludwig van Beethoven, adapted by John Rosser
Royals – ***Lorde, arranged by Mark Rosser
The Myth of Sisyphus is a 1942 philosophical essay by Albert Camus.
The chorus learn eight pieces of music which have been specifically arranged for choirs.
Dirty Work: An Ode to Joy explained by Jacob Rajan
The show might be over (for now) but we’ll always have the memories…
We sit down with Director and Co-Writer of Dirty Work Justin Lewis to get some behind the scenes thoughts on the show.
We sit down with Co-Writer of Dirty Work Jacob Rajan to get some behind the scenes thoughts on the show.
Indian Ink’s biggest and boldest production to date, Dirty Work: An Ode to Joy, features twenty-two choral singers on stage. But there’s a catch: the singers…
We sit down with Set Designer of Dirty Work John Verryt to get some behind the scenes thoughts on the show.
We sit down with Costume Designer of Dirty Work Elizabeth Whiting to get some behind the scenes thoughts on the show.
Justin is a graduate of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. Justin has enjoyed working across stage and screen with highlights including Shortland Street: The Musical, The Cherry Orchard, The Master Builder as well as film projects To the Other Side and Get Plugged. Justin is also a magician and magic consultant for theatre.
Since graduating from Unitec, Catherine has worked across stage and screen with highlights including Tender (HERE & NOW), Mackenzie’s Daughters, Lust Island, as well as screen projects Wellington Paranormal and the latest Grab a Seat series campaign.
This will be Catherine’s debut production with Indian Ink Theatre Company.
Tessa is a New Zealand actress of European and Indian descent who just finished her second season as the Green Ranger on Netflix’s Power Rangers Dino Fury. A multi-disciplinary writer, singer/songwriter and musician, Tessa trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and has been working in film and theatre in both the US and New Zealand since.
Josh Clark is a singer, pianist, conductor, arranger & composer from Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa. Throughout his career he has worked on a number of major professional NZ theatre productions including Billy Elliot, CATS: New Zealand National Tour and ONCE the Musical. He currently works as the Marketing & Audience Development Coordinator for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Sam is the Director of Creative Ambiance Stage Technologies Ltd (CASTL). A talented stage technician, he’s worked in design, management, setup and operation of multiple live performances, including Art Installations, Opera, Theatre, Dance, Circus and all manner of music concerts.
Originally from Whangārei, Luke moved to Wellington to study acting at Toi Whakaari. After graduating in 2017 he’s worked as a producer, arts manager and actor in film, TV and theatre. He keeps himself busy writing music, cooking elaborate meals, and now learning to stage manage.
Justin is a founding partner of Indian Ink. He has co-written and directed all of Indian Ink’s plays. He is a graduate of the John Bolton Theatre School and the University of Auckland.
Justin was one of the founders of Auckland’s Q Theatre and received a Kaupapa Oranga Award for his services to theatre.
Jacob is a founding partner of Indian Ink and co-wrote all of Indian Ink’s plays as well as performing in many of them. He is a graduate of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama school, Otago University (B.Sc Microbiology) and Wellington Teacher’s College. Jacob is an Arts Foundation Laureate and a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to theatre.
Dramaturge for all of Indian Ink’s productions. Poet, critic and fiction writer, Murray has published many books. Worked for Living Theatre Troupe, Theatre Action, Half Moon Theatre (London), Town and Country Players (founder), and Mercury Theatre. Associate Professor (now retired) of Drama Programmes at Auckland University (1990-2014).
John has designed all of Indian Ink’s productions bar one. With over 40 years’ experience, John is a leading New Zealand stage designer with an extensive portfolio of work including productions with NZ Opera, Auckland Theatre Company, Silo Theatre, The Large Group and many others.
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.
Jo first worked with Indian Ink designing The Pickle King in 2002. Recent lighting designs include Waiwhakaata (Eddie Elliott); Dawn Raids, The Life of Galileo, The Haka Party Incident, (Auckland Theatre Company); Don Giovanni (Wellington Opera); Semele (NZ Opera); Uku: Behind The Canvas, The Fibonacci (New Zealand Dance Company)
Known for his work with Auckland chamber choir Viva Voce and the NZ Opera Chorus, John was inaugural chair of the NZ Choral Federation and directs The Big Sing and Sing Aotearoa. He was Artistic Director of the 2020 World Symposium on Choral Music and will head up the World Choir Games in 2024. A member of the International Choral Federation Board and the World Choir Council, John was recently awarded a CNZM for services to choral music.
ASHISH RAMAKRISHAN – Hindi Language Coach
JON CODDINGTON – Prop Maker
Development Season Original Cast: ADELINE SHADDICK, BEN KUBIAK, CATHERINE YATES, JUSTIN ROGERS & JACOB RAJAN
JUDE FROUDE – General Manager
PENE LISTER – Producer
ROWAN EVERTON – Digital Marketer & Office Manager
NAOMI CAMPION – Development Manager
TE HUAMANUKA LUITEN-APIRANA – Next Gen. Programme Leader
JUSTIN FINK & N’DEYE SOCK – Interns
JAMIE-LEA LITTLE – Toi Whakaari Secondee
Addington Law, Adele Mason, Ainsley Walter & Mark Stewart, Anne & John MacVicar, Andrea Crichton, Anne Coney, Barbara Netten, Barry Gribben & Laila Harré, Brian & Andrea Steele, Brian & Gill Walker, Catherine Atchison, Chrissie Fernyhough (Fernyhough Education Trust), Craig Anderson & Hanna Scott, David Lowe, Deborah & Ross George, Gail & Stephen Hofmann, Garth Cumberland, Geoff & Bev Pownall, Georgie Knight, Graeme Edwards & Di Le Cren, Graham Howie, Helen Klisser During, Helen Moody & Jeremy Edwards, Ivan & Felicity Willis, Jane Cherrington, Jasvinder Singh & Bryce Keith, Jeffrey & Lancely Law, Jenny & Andrew Smith, Jenny & Ray McElroy, Jill Oakley, John Judge & Janet Clarke, John & Jo Gow, Karen Fraser & Mike Scully, Kate & Hanlin Johnstone, Malcolm Don (Fernyhough Education Trust), Margaret Lee, Mike Rudd, Nancie Plested, Pippa MacKay & Paul Stanley-Joblin, Ranjna & Kanti Patel, Ravi & Prabha Ravi, Rebecca Turner, Richard & Susie Rowntree, Ros & Philip Burdon, Simon & Bridget Tompkins, Sir Roderick & Lady Gillian Deane, Sondra Wigglesworth, Tom Kuruvilla, Valmai Shearer.
Ranjna Patel (Chair), Alice Canton, Craig Anderson, Helen Klisser During, Sarwat T Ebbett
Craig Anderson (Chair), Jacob Rajan, Justin Lewis
Helen Cisowski, Sam Mence & Molloy (CASTL), the amazing venue teams, Susheela, Isaac, Dominic & Nina Rajan, Philippa Woods, Rachel Nash, Vanessa Kumar, Virginia le Cren, Marg Robertson, Hone Taukiri, Lachlan Forlong, Westpoint (Andrew Potvin), EGGS (Auckland); Heaton Intermediate (Christchurch); Te Whaea (Wellington);
Auckland – Viva Voce (John Rosser, Ali Dunlop)
Nelson – Chroma Chamber Choir (Pete Rainey)
Christchurch – administered by Caitlin Godfrey
Wellington – Nota Bene (Maaike Christie Beekman, Patrick Geddes)
Tauranga – Tauranga Civic Choir (Nigel Williams)
“It holds a mirror up to ourselves and gives a message we don’t often think about enough,” Rao says.