A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a kid in a remote wilderness had adventure come to his front door. He discovered hidden powers and an opportunity to bring about social change.
The story of “Star Wars“ became his story. Three decades later, and after watching the VHS tape hundreds of times, comedian Charles Ross will bring his “One-Man Star Wars Trilogy” to the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The theater will present this parody on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 10, 11, and 12.
I reached Ross on his British Columbia phone for an interview this week:
Don Mathis: How long have you been performing Star Wars?
Charles Ross: Oh my god, since I was a kid. I’ve been doing the show almost fourteen years.
DM: Is your performance like the 60-second Shakespeare skits?
CR: Yes, sort of like that. I’m just doing the film versions of Star Wars; no costumes, no sets, no props. I’m just telling the story that everyone already knows. The comedy comes from the fact that it’s absurd. It’s almost like watching an eight-year-old kid act out the scenes – except I‘m forty.
DM: What got you into “Star Wars?”
CR: When it came out in the 70s, it was a big thing. I came by it pretty honestly. It was everywhere. I watched it a hell of a lot of times. I lived in a remote area so I watched it again and again on VHS.
DM: Texas can relate to remote areas. Where are you from?
Charles: I grew up in Prince George in the middle of the province of British Columbia, in the Fraser River valley.
DM: How did you get involved in theater?
CR: As a kid, I always enjoyed the fact I could get up in front of people, act out, and not get into trouble for it. Living on that farm in western Canada for so many years, I strived for something different. Acting out became a way out.
DM: Is there a “Joseph Campbell message” in your performance?
CR: The idea of a disenfranchised youth who has an adventure that comes to his front door and discovers a hidden power to effect social change affects everybody. It makes dreamers of everybody.
DM: Who is your favorite “Star Wars” character?
CE: When I was a kid, I loved Luke Skywalker. As an adult, I favor the Emperor. He’s such a rotten jerk; you’ve got to love him.
DM: How many countries have you visited with “Star Wars?”
CR: I think 14 countries on four continents. You can’t beat the U.S. though; it’s the heart of where Star Warsbelongs.
DM: Did you ever have any situations like the one in the Mos Eisley Cantina (also known as Chalmun’s Cantina) on the planet Tatooine?
CR: You mean, like have I ever been in a strange bar in a foreign country and almost gotten my ass kicked? So far, no. Maybe in Ireland a couple of times. A friend almost got into it with a couple of locals in a pub. But it was lucky for them nothing happened; my friend knows Tae Kwon Do.
DM: What type of audience is the most entertained by your performance?
CR: It tends to be the mixed group. You’ve got the hard-core fans, then you have the folks who don’t know much about the movie, maybe they’ve seen it only once or twice. But it appeals to everybody.
DM: What else have you done?
CR: I do one-man “Lord of the Rings.” I’ve done theater and television. I started doing standup at a comedy club and it grew into the “Star Wars” play.
DM: What’s next for Charles Ross?
CR: I’ve been a dad for the last thirteen months and it’s been incredible. I feel like every day is short and long at the same time. It’s full. Life doesn’t get much better than that!
Charles Ross will bring his galaxy of characters to the Tobin Center, Apr 10-12. Bring your kid, the Tobin encourages guests to dress as their favorite “Star Wars” character. Visit www.tobincenter.org for ticket prices and times for the “One-Man Star Wars Trilogy.” And may the farce be with you.
*Featured/top image: Charles Ross. Courtesy image.