Thursday, November 02, 2006

Charles Ross's One Man Star Wars

The One Man Star Wars Trilogy might sound like where George Lucas’ scifi epic was heading all the time. As the director began to people his Star Wars films with more and more computer animated characters, and fewer and fewer real actors, the plan might always have been to end up with just one flesh and blood star.

As it happens, however, The One Man Star Wars is not the latest in that sad progression, but instead an frighteningly ambitious night at the theatre from Canadian actor, Charles Ross. Like it says on the can, Ross’s stage show recreates the entire first trilogy of Star War movies through the work of just one man. Quite an economical approach, then?

“I’d say that One Man Star Wars has the same limited-by-funds lineage that the original film (A New Hope) had,” says Ross. “Back to basics by virtue that all I could afford was the basics. It’s a good mind set to have when creating theatre: an obsession with economy in all aspects. My show has no sets, costumes, props, or music. All I use is a wireless microphone (for when I’m in enormous venues) and a simple lighting design.”

It is hard to believe that anyone who comes to see Ross version of Star Wars will be more of an obsessive than the actor, who claims to have seen the first Star Wars film more than 400 times by the age of 10. But a certain knowledge of the trilogy is pretty much de rigueur here.

“The audience meets me more than half way because as much as I’m trying to recreate the story of Star Wars on stage I’m also drawing the memories of Star Wars from the audience” he says. “Where I lack in some aspects in my ability to conjure the story the audience fills in the blanks with their imaginations.”

Ross first performed his One Man Star Wars Trilogy in Toronto, in 2001, at a time long before he secured the permission to do so from the legendarily litigious Lucas organization. And while he performs in other shows – he has lately managed to turn the Lord of the Rings trilogy into yet another one man show!Ross is still touring the galaxy with Star Wars. Up to now he has performed that show more than 1000 times.

“The permission, ie, licensing, happened after the show had been touring for a few months. This is neither the recommended nor legal way of doing a show like this,” says Ross, who was simple taken unawares at the show’s longevity.

“In retrospect, honestly, I didn’t think the show’s life expectancy would extend beyond a couple of performances. I’m now a licensed by-product of what the Star Wars series has spawned. The question is: am I an evolution or a mutation of the Star Wars geek?”

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