Catch the Elephant Thief
Imagine a future where India was the most powerful country on Earth, wild elephants faced imminent extinction and humanity was not far behind.
That is the scenario explored in the Indian Ink Theatre Company’s latest production, The Elephant Thief.
Billed as ‘‘an outrageous new production full of laughter and heartbreak’’ brimming with ‘‘theatrical magic, mischievous wit and inspired lunacy,’’ the play follows Leela Devi as she leaves her tribal home to see the world – she doesn’t expect her father’s elephant to follow her.
An unlikely love story – and a quiet revolution – unfolds as she takes on corrupt officials, hungry poachers, fanatical leaders and supreme beings.
Recent Toi Whakaari graduate Vanessa Kumar stars as Devi.
She said playing the grounded character had been fun, and the opportunity to work with Indian Ink collaborators Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis meant a long-held ambition had been realised.
‘‘I have to pinch myself. Indian Ink has always been on my mind since high school – it’s really cheesy, but it’s a dream come true,’’ Kumar said.
Rajan, who lives in Ngaio with his young family, said he had wanted to cast Kumar after seeing her perform a solo piece at the New Zealand Drama School.
‘‘I was just so taken by her performance. There’s not that many quality Indian actors and the part demanded someone who could handle the range. She just fell from the sky,’’ Rajan said.
Rajan said the play, inspired by a trip he made to India, wove together elements of song and comedy while touching on the more serious issue of humankind’s effect on the planet.
With experts warning that elephants could be extinct in the wild within the next few decades, The Elephant Thief paid homage to this beautiful animal while painting a picture of a not-so-farflung future, he said.
The company, which has seven plays in its repertoire, uses masks to create plays that abound with emotion.
It has toured the world with hits including Kiss the Fish, Guru of Chai and Krishnan’s Dairy.
Indian Ink Theatre Company’s The Elephant Thief is on at the Hannah Playhouse until June 4.