No room for actor ego under mask
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. co.nz and click Latest Edition to see a video of the masks in Kiss the Fish.