"Our [Indian Ink] philosophy of the serious laugh - of opening the audiences' mouth with laughter and slipping something serious in - is something we've held onto." Metro Magazine, Auckland 2nd July 2010

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/


Jacob Rajan reflects on the inspiration for his work and the relationship this has with his family at a Forsyth Barr Laureates On-Stage event held in Wellington in 2009.
A meeting at an Arts Foundation event between theatre practitioner Jacob Rajan and composer Jack Body leads Jacob on an amazing journey to Bali to commission masks from a master mask maker.


Three Arts Foundation award recipients, singer Madeleine Pierard; children's book illustrator and writer Gavin Bishop and playwright and actor Jacob Rajan discuss why they create work with Paul Bushnell and Awa Press writer Jane Bowron
Jacob Rajan chose to push his creative self to the limit by studying mask under the master teachers of Bali. He speaks about the experience on National Radio 26 June 2012
Born in Malaysia
Moved to New Zealand (aged 4)
Bachelor of Science in Microbiology 
Studied primary teaching
Graduated from Toi Whakaari (Drama School) as the first Indian graduate.
Created Indian Ink Theatre company with Director, Justin Lewis.
Krishnan's Diary premieres
Krishnan's Diary wins Fringe First Award, Edinburgh.
The Candlestickmaker premieres
Arts Foundation Laureate Award: The Pickle King premieres- wins outstanding Performance of the Year - Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards;
The Dentist's Chair premieres
The Guru of Chai premieres; Jacob wins Best Actor in the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards
Made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit; Kiss the Fish premieres
The Elephant Thief premieres
Mrs Krishnan’s Party premieres
Welcome to the Murder House premieres