We write
great emails.

If you’d like to stay in the loop with the arts and creativity in Aotearoa, get ‘em in your inbox.

If you’d like to join a movement of people backing the arts and creativity.



Jacob Rajan

Jacob Rajan’s Biography

Last Updated:
16/03/2021, 9:20 am
Arts Foundation Laureate 2002
Jacob Rajan, MNZM, is a writer and performer who has brought a unique brand of theatrical magic to the New Zealand stage.

Born in Malaysia, Jacob Rajan moved to New Zealand with his parents (who are from Southern India) at the age of four. After completing a BSC in Microbiology and a Diploma in Primary Teaching, Jacob graduated from Toi Whakaari: The New Zealand Drama School. Since graduation, Jacob has had a stellar career which he began with a journey to India to experiment with contemporary and traditional theatre forms.

Upon his return to New Zealand, Jacob played an important part - as both musical director and performer - in the Theatre at Large production of Cyrano de Bergerac. After premiering in Auckland, this production went on to the 1996 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts and both the Perth and Adelaide Arts Festivals.

Television credits include Cover Story, Shortland Street, Outrageous Fortune and the TV3 drama Fish Skin Suit, the screenplay for which was written by one of the inaugural Arts Foundation Laureates, Briar Grace-Smith. Jacob has many other stage credits to his name, including The Tempest, The Revenger's Tragedy, Vampyre Dances, Hamlet and Beauty and the Beast.

His most groundbreaking work has been produced through the formation of the Indian Ink Theatre Company with Justin Lewis, in 1997. Drawn together by a love of mask and story, the pair have collaborated to create orginal theatre that is beautiful, funny, sad and true. Now comfortably in it’s second decade, Indian Ink has developed an impressive body of work receiving popular and critical acclaim both here and overseas including multiple, Actor of the Year, Composer of the Year, Play of the Year and Production of the Year awards here in Aotearoa; two Fringe First Awards and a nomination for the Stage Award for Acting Excellence in Edinburgh; and representation by top theatre agent, David Lieberman, in America.

Krishnan's Dairy (1997), The Candlestickmaker (2000), The Pickle King (2003), The Dentist's Chair (2008), The Guru of Chai (2010), Kiss the Fish (2014), The Elephant Thief (2016), Mrs Krishnan’s Party (2017) have all blended Western theatrical traditions with Eastern flavours and advanced the company’s philosophy of the “serious laugh”: opening the audiences’ mouths with laughter in order to slip something serious in.

2018 will see the world premier of Welcome to the Murder House, Indian Ink’s largest scale show to date. Commissioned by Californian theatre company, South Coast Repertory, the show will see Jacob joined on stage by 4 actors and 3 muscians including award-winning composer, David Ward.

Jacob’s first play, Krishnan’s Dairy, is set to be turned into a feature film titled Tip Top Taj Mahal.

Jacob received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2002 and was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2013 New Year's honours list. He lives in Wellington with his wife and three children.

For more information, visit http://www.indianink.co.nz/