ST. JOSEPH - Indian Ink is a touring theater company from New Zealand. Their latest play, Kiss the Fish, premiered in 2013 in New Zealand. Now Indian Ink is bringing the play to the College of St. Benedict as part of its United States debut.

Jacob Rajan is one of the founders of Indian Ink, and an actor in Kiss the Fish. He says the play has done well while touring in New Zealand.

This is the U.S. debut of Kiss the Fish, so we are looking forward to seeing what American audiences make of it. We’ve had an amazing run here in New Zealand. We won New Zealand play of the year with the play, our composer got composer of the year, and one of the actresses, Julia Croft, got best supporting actress for her role in this play. It’s done phenomenally well, and we are really looking forward to taking it to the States.

Rajan says the play is based on a true story from when his director, Justin Lewis, visited a village in Malaysia. There he found a five star resort that was built, and ready to open. It even had the mattresses in the rooms; however, the resort was inhabited by monkeys. After asking around, Lewis found out a corporation built the resort, but didn't secure a water route to provide water to the resort. The village didn't grant the corporation rights to the water, and the resort died.

The play focuses on the age old conundrum of whether to go with progress, or hold on to your traditions. Rajan says Kiss the Fish is a comedy, which has a serious intent behind it.

In a way that there’s an environmental message in this play, but it’s also very much a family relationship of generations, and what we leave for our children.

One of the pieces that set this play apart from other plays is the use of Balinese masks. They are hand carved for Kiss the Fish, and can take up to four months to complete.

I think the mask work is something you don’t generally see on the main stream stage. I think we've taken it, and it’s a comic mask tradition, and we've taken the characters and done our own thing with them. We've sort of reinvented the form for our own purposes. I think the mask work is quite extraordinary. The puppetry and masks are close cousins, and they take the audience on an imaginative ride.

Photo: Indian Ink Theatre Company

Each actor plays multiple roles in the play. There is also a puppet, and a live musician performing. Rajan is joined by fellow actors Nisha Madhan, Julia Croft, James Roque, and David Ward. “Kiss the Fish” is written by Justin Lewis.

You can catch the play tomorrow night (Saturday, Jan. 31st) at the Gorecki Family Theater on the College of Saint Benedict. "Kiss The Fish" is presented by the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University Fine Arts Series. 



Photo: Indian Ink Theatre Company