Charles Ross may just be traveling over the Malahat from his home in Victoria to bring his show to the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on Sunday, Nov. 15 but he’s been everywhere, man.
His One-Man Star Wars TM Trilogy has literally been seen around the globe.
“I’ve been doing this show since 2001, thousands of times in 500 markets on four different continents. It’s a strange experience: to do the show for 14 years and still have it resonate with people,” he said.
Star Wars seems newer than new now, which makes his Duncan show timely.
“The funny thing about Star Wars, though, is that it’s never gone anywhere. It’s never stopped even as years pass. The first trilogy was made, and then the second set of films, now the new ones are made but people still love them. There’s not many things like that out there, except Lord of the Rings, or comic books or maybe Jane Austen, where you have all this raw material to reference back to.”
Ross had bread and butter on his mind when he came up with the idea of the One-Man Star Wars TM show.
“It was a way of combatting the continual situation of being unemployed, or looking for work, when you work in theatre,” he explained.
“I studied theatre at Uvic back in the 90s and when I graduated I started to work in my vocation but I was having to travel across the country. I also tried to make something that was a bit more of my own.”
Ross tried a couple of solo shows but felt a pull towards Star Wars.
“I generally loved the films. Everybody has their favourite. I love the trilogy, of course, but I’d watched the first film especially because, at the time, it felt like it was my life. Luke Skywalker was a farm boy who wanted adventure and to escape his situation. I, too, was living on a farm and really was hoping there’d be light at the end of the tunnel.”
He turned, at the times when TV reception failed on the farm, to watching Star Wars on video. Over and over.
“I watched it to the point where I think brain damage was done!” he said.
Flash forward to 2000 and there he was, trying out his impressions of the very first Star Wars film in front of about 60 people in a 25-minute presentation.
“People were able to keep up with it. That surprised me. I completely underestimated the nerdy reach of Star Wars. Then, it went so well I realized it needed to be the trilogy. It became a one-hour show and still people kept up with it.”
Next he took it to the Fringe Theatre Festival.
“Then things just started to mutate. I began getting offers to do it in places that had nothing to do with the Fringe. I went to Chicago and Lucasfilm found out about it while I was doing it there. They didn’t kill me, which was great. They were interested. I sent them my materials and they were okay with it. I guess it’s because it’s a show that captures the spirit of being a kid.
I’m using the skills I have developed and my own sense of humour but I’m being like an eight-year-old kid. It’s unabashedly nerdy and unbridled, as you would be when you you’re a kid. But it’s artful, too,” he said.
The show really speaks for itself, Ross said.
“I actually don’t do much in the way of setting things up. I come out on stage wearing a pair of black coveralls. They hide all the padding underneath because I throw myself around the stage. I start from the very beginning of the film.” (He makes the sounds of the famous theme.)
“It’s me retelling the story, using lines and scenes from the films. I throw in jokes, of course, but it’s me doing a long-form homage to the original trilogy. Retelling a story that everybody already knows.”
And because everyone knows, they fill in the blanks themselves.
“My show is now licensed by Lucasfilm. I’m kind of like their walking, breathing action figure.”
What is extra special for this Victoria boy is that he’s near home for this Island exclusive show.
“It’s perfect. It’s nice to be able to go away to do the show but it’s also wonderful to be as close to home as possible.”
He said he thinks his show reflects some of B.C.’s own special brand of humour.
“I can’t say exactly what it is, but this is the show’s perspective, where it comes from. It’s irreverent, but in a light way,” Ross said.
So, go online to cowichanpac.ca or call 250-748-7529 and get those tickets. They’re $28 for adults and $25 for students. And may the Force be with you.