Charles Ross has blown away critics with performances that condense the action of entire film franchises like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and The Dark Knight into wildly antic one-man plays. On a bare stage with no props, Ross plays all the characters with spot-on voice impressions, sings the music and fights the battles. His show has gone from a piece performed mostly at fringe festivals to a touring show with sold-out crowds and television appearances. He's been on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien and CBS's Late Late Show. Sir Ian McKellen attended one of his performances of One Man Lord of the Rings and wrote about it in his blog.
Now, Ross steps away from those dude-geek icons to embrace the ultimate chick-lit masterpiece: he performs his newest show, One Man Pride & Prejudice, at the Gabriola Theatre Festival on August 18.
What kind of man can swing from Darth Vader to Mr. Darcy? Let’s get to know Charles Ross.
What most appeals to you about the work do? The work is a big challenge, possibly more challenging than any other kind of acting work, with perhaps the exception of film. It's oddly cathartic to do a show that's alternately fun and terrifying.
How did you get your start as a performer? When I was a kid growing up in Prince George, we lived for some years on a farm. Eventually we moved to Nelson. There was a period of metamorphosis, where things that had been very isolated suddenly became less so. It felt like a time of coming out of a cocooned state. In Nelson, I even had teachers who identified my "acting out" and help direct me in positive ways.
What’s your trick for memorizing 70 minutes of material? Memorize three pages at a time.
Your show is very fast and physical. One reviewer, astounded by your stamina, compared you to the Energizer Bunny. How do you maintain such high energy for every show? Maybe it's the kid inside me. Just so you know, I also had a reviewer say that the fact that I do this for a living is evidence of the coming of the apocalypse. For that reason alone, I tend not to read my reviews.
How many times is the most times you’ve seen a movie and what was it? Star Wars: A New Hope. Over 400 times.
Are you a geek? Why or why not? I am the mutation of a geek.
Why Pride and Prejudice? I love the story, and I love the miniseries from 1995 done by the BBC.
With whom would you most like to collaborate? Anyone who'd like to collaborate with me.
Post show regimen? Shower and a chinwag.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? No idea. Hopefully as a happy father. I hope that by that point I may have something worth teaching.
What are you most proud of? The part of my life I am most proud of is something more personal and I like to keep it that way. As far as career proud, I have started working with other people lately, and I found that challenging and rewarding.
If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be? Joseph Merrick
If you could have any superpower what would it be? The power to invoke logic and have it be heeded.
First time a work of art moved, inspired or affected you? Mump and Smoot in Something With Wog.
What is your favourite thing in your home? The kitchen.
Describe your perfect day. Being home, having a show to perform, and being able to sleep in my own bed at night.
Most important issue facing the arts an culture community today? There are too many issues: pay inequality, cultural appropriation, a lack of job security, too little funding, the dumbing down of culture — and that doesn't cover a fraction of it. Sadly, I could go on and on.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Always unpack when you arrive at your destination and again when you get back home. It's grounding.
What are the three main reasons you create art? For the love, for a laugh, and because it makes sense.
What are you most looking forward to? Finding answers and finding new questions.
What is your advice to young artists in the early stages of their careers? As hard as it may sound: keep your fiery passion and relax — it will happen. Believe.
Name another artist or arts organization whose work you admire. Too many to name. If I mention one I will only mourn later about the ones I didn't. I love people who craft worlds.
What is the most exciting current development in your sector? Technology is finally, fully, in the hands of creators. Anyone can start a company from their phone.
What was the best time of your life? I think it's happening now. Seriously.
You get three words to describe yourself — what are they? Cheesy. Loving. Sensitive.
If you change one thing in the world, what would it be? If I could, I would try to bring empathy into the lives of everyone.
What do you think about most often? My family.
One Man Pride & Prejudice is produced by Chick for Supper Productions, directed by Danette Boucher, and written by Lisa Hebden and Charles Ross.