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A comedy with bite
Written By Jacob Rajan

This deliciously dark comedy hit a nerve at the New Zealand International Festival, captivating audiences and selling out.

Albert is a dentist with a gift for easing others’ pain – but not his own. His long neglected passions are inflamed by a delicate operation on a young woman. In the process of straightening out her teeth will Albert straighten out his life? To complicate matters Albert is haunted by the ghost of William Kemmler, the first person to be executed in the electric chair – and who is encouraging him to make a rather personal extraction.

A brilliant ensemble cast, a live band and richly imaginative visual effects feature in Indian Ink’s trademark style of magical staging and storytelling.

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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.

Carl Bland

Performer

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Carl Bland

Carl is an Auckland based actor. He trained at Chelsea School of Art in London and at the Central School of Speech and Drama and has extensive experience on both stage and screen.  His film credits include I’ll Make You Happy (dir Athena Tsoulis) for which he was nominated for Best Actor at the 1999 Nokia NZ Film Awards, Whole of the Moon (dir Ian Mune), No Way Out, Queen City Rocker, Rushes and the TV drama series Rude Awakenings. Other credits include Mataku, P.E.T Detectives, Street Legal, Xena Warrior Princess, City Life, and Hercules. Recent stage appearances include Head (2005 Chapman Tripp winner for most original production),  King Lear (Downstage), Hamlet (Watershed), Romeo and Juliet, Savage Hearts, Ladies Night, Yo Banfa, The Bed Show, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The House of Doors, Camels, and Laundry Warrior.

Carl has worked with Indian Ink on The Dentist’s Chair and The Pickle King (George Reaper in the 2002 NZ tour).

Gareth Williams

Performer

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Gareth Williams

Gareth is Wellington based actor and a graduate of Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School. The Dentist’s Chair is his first project with Indian Ink.

With interests in comedy, singing and music, he has this year been touring country music comedy show The Lonesome Buckwhips (Winners Best Comedy Fringe 07) in the NZ International Comedy Festival to critical acclaim. He also recently played Charlie, in the Olivier Award winning play Stones in his Pockets and co-wrote, produced and directed live radio show On the Wireless. In 2006, Gareth travelled to London to work with leading British comedian Steve Coogan (I’m Alan Partridge, A Cock and Bull Story, Saxondale) and his company Baby Cow Productions. Plays include Macbeth, Richard III, Hamlet, Cymbeline, The Seagull, Peer Gynt, Stones in his Pockets.

Mia Blake

Performer

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Mia Blake

Mia was the 2005 winner of the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award’s Actress of the Year for her performance in Bash, by Neil Labute, directed by Shane Bosher. She has appeared in numerous stage productions – she was Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Marge Sherwood in The Talented Mr Ripley, Crystal Allen in The Women and Alison in Look Back In Anger. In 2006 she starred with Cliff Curtis in The Holy Sinner, by Inside Out Productions for the NZ International Arts Festival.

Mia’s film credits include Toa Fraser’s acclaimed film, No 2 (winner of the Sundance Audience Award) for which Mia won the 2006 New Zealand Screen Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance as Charlene. Mia recently starred in The Tattooist, directed by Peter Burger and has just completed the short film, This Is Her, directed by Katie Wolfe.

Mia is a graduate of Victoria University in Wellington and has a BA in English Literature and Theatre & Film.

Peta Rutter

Performer

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Peta Rutter

Over the past 25 years, Peta has specialized in cross-disciplinary theatre. She joined Indian Ink for The Dentist’s Chair. She began working in dance and physical theatre with the Sydney-based company Darc Swan. In New Zealand she has worked as an actor in Shona McCullagh’s works – Flare Up: a Floral Explosion, and The Human Garden; and Douglas Wright’s – Forbidden Memories and Inland (International Festival 2002). Peta co-directs Nightsong Productions, whose most recent show Head was part of the 2007 Auckland Festival and won the 2005 Chapman Tripp award (most original production). Peta’s screen credits include – This is not a Love Story (dir Keith Hill), The Footstep Man (dir Leon Narby). Her TV credits were extensive.

Sadly, Peta died on 21 July 2010 following treatment for a brain tumour.

David Ward

Composer & 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.

Isaac Smith

Musician

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Isaac Smith

Isaac Smith has recently completed a Bachelor of Jazz Performance majoring in Double Bass from the New Zealand School of Music. His experience in theatre and live performance range from work with Ake Ake Theatre Company (shows include Our Secret Garden and Lari Tomsin; One Youth’s Tragedy and musically directing the circo-arts performance of Ship Song for the 2007 Capital E Children’s National Arts Festival); Redmole (shows include This Unquiet Planet & Radio Shade:Project Antigone) to directing and composing music as a part of the Wellington International Jazz Festivals and collaborations with Mumbai based Bollywood artist Vaishali Samant as a part of the 2007 Crossings Contemporary Indian Culture Festival.

Isaac has also been involved with the Massey University Textile Department researching an interface between dance, composition, improvisation and textile. Isaac frequents the Wellington jazz and creative music scene performing solo, and in larger ensembles directed by himself or in projects led by other creative forces in the Wellington music scene

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.

Cathy Knowsley

Lightening Designer & Tech Manager

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Cathy Knowsley

Lighting Designer / Technical Manager

Cathy has over 20 year’s experience in theatre production and touring. She first joined the Indian Ink team in1998 and when not on tour with Indian Ink specialises in event management and health and safety with her company HiViz Event Management.

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.

Jeremy Fern

Lightening Designer

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Jeremy Fern

Jeremy Fern has been designing for theatre and contemporary dance for the past 7 years.

Companies include Black Grace Dance Company (Surface, Human Language, Objects), Massive Theatre Company, (Up Close Up Loud), Silo Theatre Company (Clockwork Orange, Take me out, Plenty, Bare, Three days of Rain, The Real Thing, Based on Auckland, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore) and 88 in the Shade (The End of The Golden Weather

John Verryt

Set & Costume

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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.

Inkspiration

  • Justin's notes
  • Jacob's notes

More than ten years on from the premiere of Krishnan’s Dairy and Indian Ink is still going strong. Jacob and I still like one another, we still live in different cities and we now have the status of ‘Mid Career Artists.’ I have to pinch myself sometimes that I have a career as a theatre maker and that indeed many of my dreams have come true. But what happens after your dreams come true?

The spark for The Dentist’s Chair was the idea of fear; ghosts and the notion that life makes cowards of us all. My greatest fears are about losing the things I have dreamed about and value the most – my family, my health, my career, my comfortable life – a deep fear of having to start again. But the story has a mind of its own and at a certain point in the making of this show I have had to let my ideas go and allow the story find its own path. The hardest thing is to see what is right in front of me and then get out of the way.

One of the things that allows me to do this is the audience. I only really know what we have made when our work is in front of an audience. We continue to write and work after the premiere performance and I am very grateful for what audiences give back to us. And what I see now when I look at the play surprises me in a good way. I think this has become a piece about faith rather than fear. Everyone drags their feet about going to the dentist but when your tooth aches you can’t get there quick enough. Perhaps if God had a job he would be a dentist and maybe Albert is a hero for our times – a fear filled dentist whose greatest enemy is himself.

As always, we began with the masks but this time we have ended up somewhere new. The essence of the masks remains, in a set of teeth, a way of walking and a theatricality that is open to the audience, but the story has demanded a new style of playing. Knowing what to keep and what to let go has tested me and, as always, has required a leap into the unknown for this story to find its form.

I have been drawn forward by a love of live music, story and theatricality and by the wonderful creative team who have brought such fresh energy and so much of themselves to this work. As a hero Albert’s resistance to change has frustrated me at times but he has also inspired in me a deep compassion. His story is full of pain but I’d also like to think is full of love, forgiveness and redemption.

The Dentist’s Chair is a new show for us, the start of a new body of work. It is feels unfamiliar, a bit scary but it also feels very good to have reached this point, sharing our story with you.

I wrote my first programme note for my first play 11 years ago. I’m Indian and the play had Indian characters and the notes were apologizing to Indians and people fond of Indians who might take offense at my portrayal of Indians.

The Dentist’s Chair is my fourth play and I’m still Indian, the company is still called Indian Ink but the play actually makes no reference to my ethnicity or the ethnicity of any of the other characters for that matter. It wasn’t a deliberate desertion of my culture, it wasn’t a political statement – it just happened. The story is a tyrant who exorcises any other allegiance you may have. If you try to force it to do your will, it just packs up and goes into exile leaving you floundering in the wilderness with no one to follow.

And this story has left us lost more than once. A labour of love full of all the anguish and insecurity that only love can inspire and endure. Here’s a little tip for young writers. Be careful the themes you choose to explore in your writing since they inevitably loom large in your life as you work.

We chose the theme of fear and fear has hovered over us through the whole process. The climate of fear that has been the tenor of recent times – the terrorism, the tsunamis, the bird-flu replaced with more immediate fears of failure and financial ruin. But of course the flipside of fear is trust. Ask any knife thrower’s assistant, frequent flyer or evangelist. When you have enough trust or faith the fear dissipates. And so it was with this play. The fear was transformed from the ominous swooping wings of black vultures overhead into the fluttering of butterflies in our stomachs. Actually, they were the same butterflies I had 11 years ago. It’s a reassuring feeling. In the end, our trust in the story and our ability to tell it, our faith in the wonderful team we have assembled have pulled us through the dark times and into the brilliant light of the theatre.

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