Theatre legend says goodbye to breakthrough role after 25 years

By Charlie Gates (Stuff)

Celebrated playwright and actor Jacob Rajan is saying goodbye to one of New Zealand’s most successful plays after 25 years.

In 1997, Rajan first wrote and performed his play Krishnan’s Dairy, which went on to become one of the most successful pieces of independent theatre in New Zealand history.

The play, which tells the parallel stories of an Indian couple running a New Zealand dairy alongside the man who built the Taj Mahal, has won many theatre awards and played to sold out audiences around the world. It also launched Rajan’s company Indian Ink Theatre, which has since produced 10 more plays.

Rajan, who plays all the roles in the play, is performing the show for one last time as part of a New Zealand tour that comes to Christchurch on September 2 and 3.

“When I started the tour in Auckland I thought, ‘I love this piece and I want to end while I still do’. Instead of touring it forever, I wanted to end on a good note,” he said.

“I genuinely adore this piece, but the company is moving on to other things.”

Rajan said he had a deeper connection with the play now, at the age of 56, than he did when he first performed it in his 20s.

“Now, when I play the shopkeeper’s wife holding a baby, I know what that feels like, having three children of my own now.

“I identify with the characters wanting to make a success for their children.

“I have deeper connections with the themes of the show.”

But Rajan will not have time to wallow after his last ever performance in Wellington. The next day he will go back to work rehearsing his new play.

“I am closing the doors on the dairy, but not Indian Ink or my creative life.

“We will finish in Wellington, which is where it started and is my home town, and we will be performing in Te Papa.

“There’s a slight sense I might be sealed up and exhibited.”