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A Stirring Blend Of Rich Storytelling And Theatre Royalty: Indian Ink’s Guru Of Chai Returns

Indian Ink Theatre Company Presents
Written by Jacob Rajan & Justin Lewis
Directed by Justin Lewis

Described as a work of genius, Indian Ink’s internationally acclaimed Guru of Chai returns by demand, 14 years on from its world premiere. For the first time in almost a decade Auckland, Kāpiti and Wellington will get to experience the outstanding theatrical magic of this production, filled with romance, intrigue, betrayal, and loss, from 12 June.

A poor chai-wallah (tea-seller) has his life changed forever when a young girl is abandoned at a busy railway station and brings the place to a standstill with the beauty of her singing.

The contradictions of modern India, with its iPhones and ancient gods, come alive in this much-loved play from one of New Zealand’s finest performers, Jacob Rajan. A true showcase of his unparalleled talent, Rajan stars as a buck-toothed Guru, dispensing dubious spiritual wisdom while channelling 17 perfectly realised characters in this gripping romantic thriller, including a poet, a policeman, and 7 sisters.

“Honestly, since I first put on those magic, hideous teeth in a workshop 15 years ago, I don’t think the character has ever left me. There’s an inner clown in all of us that is often repressed, and only gets to come out when we’re in the right company or drunk or both. In Guru I found my clown. The character is a complete gift to me as a performer and the audience. A conduit to mischief, pathos, beauty and truth. I can’t wait to unleash him again.” says Rajan.

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A quintessentially Indian Ink production, Guru of Chai is outrageously funny and heartbreakingly beautiful, with a killer live soundtrack composed by David Ward and performed live by Adam Ogle. Directed by Justin Lewis, the production blends Indian storytelling with Western theatrics, drawing from a classic Indian fairytale, modernised and reimagined in a uniquely Indian Ink style.

First premiering in 2010, Guru of Chai has gone on to have an impressive history, winning NZ Play of the Year, Actor of the Year and Composer of the Year. The production has toured extensively both nationally and internationally, with performances in Canada, India, the US and Australia.

The remarkable partnership between Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis has continued to create success after success, easily cementing them as some of Aotearoa’s most revered theatremakers. Two success stories from their now extensive repertoire will also be showcased in 2024, with Dirty Work heading to Hamilton, New Plymouth and Whangārei in May, and international performances of Mrs Krishnan’s Party happening in the US and Canada through February, March and April.


Auckland, Q Theatre

12 – 23 June

Coastlands Theatre, Te Raukura ki Kapiti, Kapiti

4 – 6 July

Hannah’s Playhouse, Wellington

1 – 11 August

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