- Q: When did it all begin?
Jacob created Krishnan’s Dairy as a 20-minute piece when he was at NZ Drama School in 1994. In 1995 we began working together to turn it into a full-length production and in 1997 Krishnan’s Dairy premiered at Wellington’s Bats Theatre. After that first production we continued to work on the show, improving the production values and making a few nips and tucks to the script. Throughout the production’s life we have continued to polish the show, making small changes to keep us and the show alive in an elusive search for some kind of perfection.
- Q: How do you make a show?
Somehow through the process of creating Krishnan’s Dairy we stumbled onto an approach to making work that we have built on with The Candlestickmaker and now with The Pickle King . The essence of this is to allow time for the creative process, to think as writers as well as actors, composers, designers, directors. Elements of the design, staging and script all emerge together and often influence one another. We do a lot of talking and writing on big bits of paper as we pull the story together. We plan ideas, do some improvisations to try the ideas out, go back to the planning, write some things down and try, try again until we arrive at a script. Regular sessions with dramaturg, Murray Edmond and designer, John Verryt give us fresh views. We test the work further with public showings before we go into full production. We know we can’t get it perfect the first time we open and so continue to grow our work and develop it over time with the input of audiences.
- Q: How do you keep it fresh?
One of the things that keep the show alive is the enormously warm audience response and the wide variety of people and places we have played to. For us, theatre only comes to life with an audience. The exchange we have had with audiences from the large cities and small towns, from Edinburgh to Dunedin by way of Northland, Rotorua and everywhere in between enriches the show.
- Q: Masks. How and why?
Justin makes the masks from paper machier, a rustic rather than sophisticated form of construction that can take anywhere from one to thirty attempts to get the mask just right. The masks lie at the heart of our work; they lead us into a highly theatrical world and free the imagination from the tyranny of literalism. The masks lead to characters that have their own lives and who have no hesitation in telling us when we’re going down the wrong track. No matter how clever we think the idea is or how hard we try – the masks keep us honest.
- Q: How long does it take to make a show?
Two years seems to be the time we have settled on to make a show. Over this time we work pretty solidly, live with the story and characters and try not to drive one another mad. When you come to the theatre you see only the end product and that is as it should be. But each season takes months and even years of planning and is the result of the efforts of a dedicated support team. We would like to thank our brilliant production team, Louise Gallagher, Cathy Knowsley, Jo Kilgour and many others. There is also a team of creatives whose work is there on stage but that don’t always get noticed, Murray Edmond, John Verryt, Conrad Wedde. It would be impossible to bring you the show without the staff at the theatres whose support from senior management, through to technical staff, ushers and all the rest is vital.
- Q: What else do you do?
We spend all our time creating and presenting our work. The rest of the time we are in the office engaged in the business of our art, preparing for a tour, recovering from a tour, or working on the new play. This year we will spend 16 weeks touring and performing our shows - that’s four months on the road. We are a touring company because that enables us to keep polishing the shows (we’ve only got a limited number of good ideas anyway) and we want as many people as possible to see our work. But touring is hard on everyone, families and company members. It is only with the understanding, generosity and support of families and friends that we can continue to work this way.