No room for ac­tor ego un­der mask

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

All egos must be checked at the stage door when per­form­ing with a mask.

In­dian Ink theatre com­pany co­founders Justin Lewis and Ja­cob Ra­jan are no strangers to the art but cast­ing ac­tors to bring their col­lec­tion of Ba­li­nese masks to life re­mains a tough process.

‘‘One of the things with the masks is you don’t have room for the ac­tor’s ego, you need room for them to dis­ap­pear into the char­ac­ter,’’ Mr Lewis says.

‘‘You have to find an ac­tor who has a cer­tain ap­ti­tude to play with the masks.’’

Free­mans Bay ac­tor and co­me­dian James Roque is the face be­hind the lead char­ac­ter’s fa­cade in the com­pany’s new of­fer­ing Kiss The Fish play­ing at Q theatre this month.

‘‘I went into it a bit un­sure but then I re­alised you can be a lot more play­ful than you think you can be,’’ Mr Roque says.

‘‘You come to a point where you put it on and you be­come this other per­son.’’

It is his first time tread­ing the boards with the award-win­ning com­pany formed by Mr Lewis and Mr Ra­jan nearly two decades ago.

The show was born out of Mr Lewis’ visit to an aban­doned Malaysian re­sort that is oc­cu­pied en­tirely by mon­keys.

The re­sort, sit­ting on a hill over­look­ing a sleepy vil­lage on Tioman Is­land, was com­pletely fur­nished but for­eign de­vel­op­ers had ne­glected to se­cure wa­ter rights to run the ven­ture.

A lo­cal rice farmer owned the rights and re­fused to sell them.

Even 15 years on, Mr Lewis be­lieves it is only mon­keys who re­side in the re­sort.

Mr Roque plays Sidu, a char­ac­ter who has a fas­ci­na­tion with singer Fred­die Mer­cury and a burn­ing de­sire to es­cape what most peo­ple would con­sider to be a trop­i­cal par­adise.

Mr Ra­jan, Ju­lia Croft, Nisha Mad­han and the fa­mil­iar face of mu­si­cian David Ward star along­side.

‘‘It’s about be­ing grate­ful for what you’ve got and see­ing what you’ve got in front of you,’’ Mr Roque says.

Fol­low­ing up on the suc­cess of In­dian Ink’s pre­vi­ous shows is a hard ask with high au­di­ence ex­pec­ta­tions, Mr Lewis says.

‘‘You’ve got to be able to stretch and grow. I think part of our job is to give them what they want but more than that, also what they don’t know they want.’’

The pair spend a lot of their time trav­el­ling to places like Bali to en­sure au­di­ences aren’t dis­ap­pointed, Mr Ra­jan says

‘‘We go to fill our souls up and that per­me­ates the work.’’

He hopes the show will be able to carve its own path over­seas fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the duo’s other pro­duc­tions which have toured Europe, Asia and the United States.

‘‘It is go­ing to have quite a life from here.’’

Mon­key busi­ness: The play gets its name from an old In­dian proverb: ‘‘Kiss the fish you have, not the one that got away’’.

Star turn: Ac­tor and co­me­dian James Roque stars in In­dian Ink’s lat­est show Kiss the Fish.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bournews. and click Lat­est Edi­tion to see a video of the masks in Kiss the Fish.

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