Dirty Work



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“We want to leave an indelible imprint on your heart; that’s why we’re called Indian Ink.”

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About Indian Ink

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.

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Justin Lewis holding a staper while sitting at a desk 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.

Justin Lewis

Justin Lewis and Jacob Rajan are holding a vacuum cleaner

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.

Jacob Rajan

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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

* Written by: Brooke Fraser, Scott Ligertwood
Licensed by: Kobalt Music Publishing and Hillsong
** Written by: Nama, Rahman, Shah
Songs Of Universal, Inc. Administered by: Universal Music Publishing
Pty Ltd
*** Written by Joel Little and Ella Yelich-O’Connor
© EMI April Music Inc.
Licensed by EMI Music Publishing Australia Pty Limited
Licensed by: Kobalt Music Publishing
Image of a man pushing a rock up a hill

The Myth of Sisyphus

The Myth of Sisyphus is a 1942 philosophical essay by Albert Camus.

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Choir Members stand singing while holding music folders of sheet music.

The Music of Dirty Work

The chorus learn eight pieces of music which have been specifically arranged for choirs.

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Jacob Rajan sits with a smile on his face and a cartoon map of NZ next to him. The map has dots for Auckland, Nelson, Christchurch, Wellington & Tauranga

Dirty Work explained by Jacob Rajan

Dirty Work: An Ode to Joy explained by Jacob Rajan

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Making of Dirty Work thumbnail

Making of Dirty Work

The show might be over (for now) but we’ll always have the memories…

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hugely funny

NZ Herald

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A meeting place of great creative choices: beautiful, funny, sad and true.


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a truly heartwarming and well-made show that I guarantee will make you smile.

Red Raven

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compelling and beautiful

Andrew Whiteside

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Water Cooler

Justin Lewis sits smiling at the camera while tying his sock on his front pouch. HIs tan coloured dog is sitting next to him.

Water Cooler Converstations: Justin Lewis

We sit down with Director and Co-Writer of Dirty Work Justin Lewis to get some behind the scenes thoughts on the show. 

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Jacob Rajan sits on a stool wearing a white long shelved shirt with strips and black jeans.

Water Cooler Conversations: Jacob Rajan

We sit down with Co-Writer of Dirty Work Jacob Rajan to get some behind the scenes thoughts on the show. 

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Four smiling people sit on a sofa in a warmly lit, comfy-looking room.

Talking Dirty with the Choir

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…

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John Verryt sits at his design desk with pencil and paper. Behind him are models of his past sets

Water Cooler Conversations: John Verryt

We sit down with Set Designer of Dirty Work John Verryt to get some behind the scenes thoughts on the show.

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Photo of Neil from Dirty Work, along with a drawing of his costume

Water Cooler Conversations: Elizabeth Whiting

We sit down with Costume Designer of Dirty Work Elizabeth Whiting to get some behind the scenes thoughts on the show.

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Our Cast
And Crew

ASHISH RAMAKRISHAN – Hindi Language Coach


JUDE FROUDE – General Manager
PENE LISTER – Producer
OLIVIA BRINKMANN – Digital Marketer
NAOMI CAMPION – Administration & Development Manager
TE HUAMANUKA LUITEN-APIRANA – Next Gen. Programme Leader

Indian Ink wishes to thank all of its incredible patrons, funding partners and supporters without whom the show could not go on.


Addington Law, Adele Mason, Ainsley Walter & Mark Stewart, Alison Blain, Anne & John MacVicar, Andrea Crichton, Anne Coney, Barbara Netten, Bev & Geoff Pownall, Bridget & Simon Tompkins, Catherine Atchison, Chrissie Fernyhough, David Lowe, Deborah & Ross George, Di Le Cren & Graeme Edwards, Felicity & Ivan Willis, Gail & Stephen Hofmann, Georgie Knight, Gill & Brian Walker, Lady Gillian & Sir Roderick Deane, Graham Howie, Hanna Scott & Craig Anderson, Hannah Maschler, Helen Klisser During, Helen Moody & Jeremy Edwards, Jane Cherrington, Janet Clarke & John Judge, Jasvinder Singh & Bryce Keith, Jenny & Andrew Smith, Jenny & Ray McElroy, Jill Oakley, Jo & John Gow, Karen Fraser & Mike Scully, Kate & Hanlin Johnston, Laila Harré & Barry Gribben, Lancely & Jeffrey Law, Malcolm Don, Margaret Lee, Marianne Infante, Mike Rudd, Pippa MacKay & Paul Stanley-Joblin, Ranjna & Kanti Patel, Ravi & Prabha Ravi, Rebecca Turner, R J Morrison, Susie & Richard Rowntree, Sondra Wigglesworth, Trish & John Gribben, Valmai Shearer 

Advisory Board

Ranjna Patel (Chair),  Craig Anderson, Helen Klisser During, Sarwat T Ebbett & Liz Miller

Indian Ink Trust

Jacob Rajan (Chair), Justin Lewis, Craig Anderson

Thanks to

Helen Cisowski, Sam Mence & Molloy (CASTL), the amazing venue teams, Susheela, Isaac, Dominic & Nina Rajan, Philippa Woods, Rachel Nash, Vanessa Kumar 

Core Choirs:
Hamilton – Mosaic Choir (Brooke Baker)
New Plymouth –NZCF Taranaki (Christopher J. Luke)
Whangarei – Opera North (Emma Couper)

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Tessa Rao in a yellow pant suit hugs Catherine Yates tight who looks uncomfortable in a cleaners outfit

Celebrating cleaners and doing the dirty work

A play that honours the humble office cleaner is coming to New Plymouth and will utilise a local choir for part of the cast.

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Actor Tessa Rao stands in a yellow pant suit and black top with her mouth open in shock. Her hands are held out in confusion

Dirty Work

By: WriteOnArts For 26 years, Indian Ink has been garnering critical acclaim with their original plays entertaining more than 500,000 people and winning a swag…

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Actor Justin Rogers in a brown jumper and tan pants stands smiling to the left while raising his arms

Randomness, uncertainty, absurdity, happiness, songs and Joy

The latest show from award winning theatre company Indian Ink has an excellent hook

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