Forging an Arts Career: Jacob Rajan

Pitopito Kōrero


May 4, 2021



Mā te huruhuru ka rere te manu
Adorn the bird with feathers so it may soar.

Students of Toi Whakaari go on to numerous creative pathways after they leave the kura and we wanted a space to celebrate these rich, varied and sometimes unexpected arts careers. Our next article is from Jacob Rajan.


Photo Ankita Singh

Jacob Rajan OMNZ, 1994 Acting graduate
Actor, Playwright, Creative & Co-Founder of Indian Ink Theatre Company


Jacob is a playwright, actor and founding partner of Indian Ink. In 1994 he became the first Indian graduate from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. In 2002 he was made an Arts Laureate by the NZ Arts Foundation and in 2013 was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for his services to theatre.      


What are you working on now? I’m about to head into rehearsals for our latest play: Paradise or the Impermanence of Ice Cream. A wild ride through Mumbai and the afterlife on the back of a vulture - woo hoo!


What is your favourite thing about your work? As a theatre maker I love making stuff from scratch - it’s like a mirage in the distance that turns into a world full of people I fall in love with. As an actor I love the connection with the audience, I love that I get to be a conduit for delight and mischief and raw emotion every night.


Highlights of your creative career? A 5 star review in Edinburgh and selling out the season as a result, performing in New York, performing in India, performing 3 of my plays back to back at the Opera House in Wellington (nearly killed me but still...), being made an Arts Foundation Laureate and Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to theatre.


What do you know now you would tell Toi student Jacob? Be aware of the energy you bring to a room. Know the difference between doubt and insecurity - doubt is good, doubt is fine, the other one - not so much. Same with confidence and arrogance - don’t be an arse hole. 


Anything else you’d like to celebrate / wisdom to share / aroha to give / wero to offer… My favourite quote: "Film will make you famous, T.V. will make you rich, theatre will make you good."


Photo Ankita Singh

Paradise or the Impermanence of Ice Cream
Written By Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis

Jacob Rajan delivers a dazzling solo performance as he channels seven characters, weaving the afterlife and a dash of Bollywood disco into the real life mystery of India’s vanishing vultures. 

Infused with serious laughter, exquisite puppetry and inspired sound design this show is guaranteed to blow your mind and melt your heart. 

Don’t miss out; the preview season sold out two weeks before opening and Paradise has already been snapped up for North American touring in early 2022. 


Top promo image credit John McDermott.

We do our best to keep up to date on what Toi Whakaari graduates are doing around the globe but we are only as good as the information we receive. If you are a Toi graduate, or have information about a project a graduate is working on, please contact our Marketing team on– we would love to hear from you.