The Guru of Chai (aka Jacob Rajan) mixes western theatre with eastern charm, as this award winning actor and story-teller brings love, loss and enlightenment all at once to the stage. Expect outrageously funny tales of everything you least expected.

Where did the idea of Indian Ink come from? Did you start it by yourself or with a friend?

I started Indian Ink with Justin Lewis in 1996. I was a young actor who’d written a play that needed a director. Justin was a young director that needed a play to direct. We both shared a love of mask and story. The play was called “Krishnan’s Dairy.”

What are five words you would use to describe your plays to a stranger?

Beautiful, funny, sad and true.

What was your childhood dream?

To talk to animals.

The Guru of Chai was very successful in LA! What can the New Zealand audience expect from this play?

To be transported to a vibrant new world that is peopled by delightful characters, and then gets entwined in a romantic thriller that will make you laugh and break your heart.

What character that you have played most relates to you and why?

They all relate to me in some way. When you write parts for yourself you can’t help but write parts of yourself into them.

What made you want to become an actor?

I did a mask course with my guru, John Bolton, about 20 years ago. When I first put on a mask something clicked and I knew this is what I wanted to do.

Tell us a little about what you were up to in Bali.

I was doing an acting course that looked at Balinese performance and clown. Incredibly intense 14 hour days but a real shake up of my acting bones in a magical part of the world.

Which one of your plays is your favourite and why?

They’re like my children, I don’t have favourites. They all delight me in different ways.

How did it feel being nominated for best actor at the Edinburgh Fringe?

Surreal. We had a dream run in Edinburgh. Krishnan’s Dairy got a 5 star review and sold out for the entire month. The nomination was the icing on the haggis.

If you could co star with any actor/actress dead or alive who would it be and why?

Michael Chekhov – the nephew of playwright Anton Chekhov and was widely recognized as one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. I’d never heard of him till about 5 years ago. Love to learn from him and see what all the fuss was about.

What are the difficulties of a one man play like Guru of Chai? Do you enjoy transitioning between characters?

The difficulties are the same as the joys - the challenge of bringing the entire audience into the world of the story and maintaining that bubble of delight and wonder for the duration. I’m playing 17 characters in Guru of Chai but they’re such a beautiful bunch of orphans, bawlers, brawlers and bastards – I love them all.

By Olivia Young


The Guru of Chai is showing at Q Theatre from July 11 – July 21 2012.





First name
Last name
Your email address
Repeat email

Get Mailed