Andrew Dipper

Charles Ross interview

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The UK tour of One Man Lord of the Rings and One Man Star Wars Trilogy is coming to the North East following a successful season at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The shows are written and performed by Canadian actor Charles Ross, who was given permission to perform them when he presented the shows to the owners of the franchises. Lucasfilm went as far as inviting him to perform his One Man Star Wars Trilogy at official Star Wars conventions.

We chat to Ross ahead of One Man Lord of the Rings at the Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre on Saturday 4 October, and One Man Star Wars Trilogy at the Playhouse in Whitley Bay on Monday 13 October.

When did you first read the Lord of the Rings books and what was your reaction to them?

My Mum read the Hobbit to me and my siblings, I was about seven or eight. I read the Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion as soon as I could, but it took a while for me to get through them. I was definitely a slower reader at 12.

When and why did you decide to write and perform the show?

I’d already done a One Man Star Wars and I was looking for a sequel. It had to be something that I felt close to in my nerdy heart. Peter Jackson’s films were masterfully done, so they seemed the obvious choice.

What was the process of putting the show together?

I sat at computer and wrote down what I could remember of the films. I tried to retell the tale, as if I was explaining it to a person unfamiliar with the films. That took a few hours, however I had given it already a great deal of consideration. The next two steps were to rehearse and get it in front of an audience.

What can audiences expect to see if they come to One Man Lord of the Rings?

They’ll see the story of Frodo and the Fellowship travel from the Shire to Mordor and back. I play 55 specific characters from the films. I also transform into 10,000 Urukai and 200,000 Orcs. There’s no costumes, no set, and no Hollywood talent – just me using my voice and body. It strangely works.

Are there any characters/sections you particularly enjoy performing?

Oh yes, so many are a joy to perform. I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun it was to play Denethor, the Steward of Gondor. He may not be the biggest role in the films, but he’s one of the most fun.

What kind of audience comes to the show?

It’s a mix of super, moderate, mild and newbie fans of the books/films. The reaction has been uniformly positive – although, I did have one person write an email to me stating: the fact you do this for a living is evidence of the coming of the apocalypse. That wasn’t favorable, but at least things work out for me at the end of all things.

Tell me about your other show, One Man Star Wars Trilogy.

In One Man Star Wars Trilogy, which I perform at other venues on the tour, audiences can expect to see Star Wars as it was never intended to be seen. Stripped of the revolutionary special effects, epic soundtrack, and galactic scale – reduced to its essence. One person, three films, in one hour.

When and why did you decide to become a writer and actor?

I feel comfortable in front of an audience. If you write and perform your own material it’s a liberating experience. I found out when I was young, that performing was the thing I wanted to do.

What are you enjoying most about this autumn tour of England?

Seeing the towns and cities, the green scenery, riding the trains, driving on the motorway, walking the high streets, even seeing old friends from tours past – all the mundane and beautiful experiences that define what a tour is.

What next for you after the tour?

I am going back to Canada to continue renovating my home. Life is a continual revision.