Why Yoda is a tough role to nail in one-man Star Wars show
As a kid growing up in rural British Columbia without television reception, Charles Ross nearly wore out his family's VHS copy of Star Wars. He soaked up every line and every nuance, which became fodder years later when he wrote and starred in One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, playing at the Bluma Appel Theatre from April 27 to May 1. In his intergalatic homage, Ross plays all the characters, sings all the music and swings a lightsaber like a true Jedi warrior.
To date, Ross has performed his show more than 4,000 times over 15 years in 11 countries spanning four continents. Clearly, the Force has been with him. Here's what he had to say about his passion for the film franchise and the character that causes him the most angst:
Why did you create a one-man Star Wars-themed show?
When I saw the film as a five-year-old kid, it made a deep impact on me. I loved the characters, the story, the special effects and the drama of it all. After studying theatre at the University of Victoria, I was working in my vocation and traveling to various jobs. I got tired of trying to find work every three months and one of the ways I knew to end that was to produce your own stuff. I was going to write something biographical, but I knew I wasn't interesting enough. I did think Star Wars on stage could work.
How did you know?
I performed the show in front of 60 people who weren't Star Wars geeks and it clicked. Star Wars was so popular that they could follow what I was doing and enjoy it. It was a mind-blowing thing.
What's your approach to performing this show?
I don't take it terribly seriously. I'm more like a kid out in the schoolyard reenacting his favourite film. It's less for the hardcore fans. I have a license to have fun with it and I do.
What character gives you the most angst to perform?
My Yoda sounds like a dying goat. It's just passable. After the show, I get many fans who meet me and do their own version of Yoda and it's remarkably better than mine.
Which one is your favourite?
I like doing the Emperor. He's such a bastard. He has an almost Shakespearean quality to him. He's not trying to be anyone's friend and he's okay with that.
What does George Lucas think of your show?
I haven't heard directly, but I know it was screened for him after someone from his company heard me talking about it on an NPR show. I submitted everything for his approval. I wasn't using any images or footage from the movies, so he was okay with it. I think he appreciated the weirdo quality of what I was doing.
Do different countries react differently to the jokes in the show?
Sometimes they don't work. For some odd reason, the word "bum" isn't funny to Americans. I have a bit when I refer to someone having a "bum face." Someone after the show told me that they don't really use that word. I changed it to "butt face" and it got huge laughs. Go figure.
How do people react when they find out what you do for a living?
It's an instant conversation killer. When I'm on an airplane and I want to just enjoy some peace and not chat to my seatmates, I'll bring it up when they ask. They don't know what to say, so things get quiet after that.
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