2002 Laureate Award recipient Jacob Rajan is an actor, playwright and co-founder of New Zealand theatre company Indian Ink. We caught up with him for a quickfire Q & A about their new theatre show 'Welcome to the Murder House' which premieres this May.
Your new show ‘Welcome to the Murder House’ will see you returning as actor to the stage. How does it feel to be back on stage again?
I haven’t really left. I’ve been performing “Guru of Chai” in various parts of the world but jumping into brand new work is, of course, a different beast. I imagine it’s like the difference between show jumping and rodeo. On the one hand you’ve got a horse that is completely in sync with you on the other it’s a wild, unpredictable ride.
I understand that this show is different from your previous plays. However, in ‘The Dentist’s Chair’ there is a song called ‘Welcome to the Murder House’. Is there a connection?
There’s a total connection. Dave Ward’s music from “The Dentist’s Chair” features throughout “Welcome to the Murder House” including what is now the titular ditty. The story of the man who invented the electric chair was in the periphery of “The Dentist’s Chair” but in this show it’s front and centre. All art is theft. This time we just stole from ourselves.
Explain ‘Welcome to the Murder House’ in five words.
"Bad people tell good tales" or “It’s a wild, unpredictable ride."
A little over a year ago, Indian Ink successfully raised over $25,000 on our crowdfunding platform Boosted NZ to complete the production of ‘Welcome to the Murder House’. Was it any help?
Ooooh yes. We had to get ourselves over to L.A. a couple of times and workshop the show. We did a reading of the work both here and in L.A. There was huge commitment to getting the show to be world class. It takes time and resources to do that. The Boosted campaign was an essential part of it. Another shout out to everyone who contributed. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope you’ll see that it was worth it.
What is your favourite piece of theatre you have seen recently?
Te Po written by Carl Bland. Carl has an artist’s vision and a poet's soul. To borrow an oft used phrase from Masterchef: “This show was Carl on a plate.”
Welcome to the Murder House premieres on May 26 at Te Auaha. For more information and tickets visit the Indian Ink website.
Assembling the largest cast and crew in the company’s history, Welcome to the Murder House is a satirical take on the classic superhero story that reveals the consequences of pigeonholing people into heroes or villains. Based on a true story, the play speaks of a divided world where faith is more powerful than fact and shame drives destructive behaviour. The fictional injection of real Indian scientist Chandra Bose, whose world-leading research into electricity was ahead of its time, gives an Indian Ink twist to the telling.
Presented in dynamic vaudevillian style; a variety show performance form popular in 1890s America where this story is set, Welcome to the Murder House features comedy, puppetry, live music, song and dance to entertain and delight whilst recounting a powerful, tragic and moving tale.