Laughing at Epic Films One Trilogy at a Time
When Charlie Ross created his One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, he was holding onto the same fandom as his eight-year-old self, who saw Star Wars: A New Hope approximately 400 times. For his One-Man Lord of the Rings, Charlie again was tapping into “the simplicity of childhood,” he wrote in a 2010 issue of Canadian Theatre Review. “JRR Tolkien’s books had greatly influenced my childhood … [and] when I saw the epic tale had been reborn as cinematic poetry [where] you could feel the love and passion for the source material,” he knew it was the next trilogy to tackle. But Charlie took longer to find a third trilogy to complete his own trilogy of trilogies.
After seeing Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and anticipating The Dark Knight Rises, Charlie thought he had his next creation set. But the shooting in a Colorado theatre at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises marred his enthusiasm. “I’ve always had a childlike exuberance for the movie experience,” Charlie explains. “I had a hard time removing that experience from the movie. It was difficult to reconcile.”
Eventually Charlie was able to go back to the idea of condensing the three films into his trademark show style. “There’s less preciousness in this show than in Star Wars or Lord of the Rings for me,” Charlie says. “I’m having a lot more fun with this show than I thought I would. I love being a piss-ant. And I love working on something new.”
What isn’t new about Charlie’s process is working with TJ Dawe, who dramaturged this show as well as his others. The pair have known each other for more than 20 years. At university they were often paired in drama classes—and the origin of Charlie’s Star Wars commenced during a Frisbee game where they each had to quote lines from the classic films.
“We put our fun hats on to come up with something new and exciting,” Charlie says of One-Man Dark Knight: A Batman Parody. And while the Batman films aren’t as well known as Star Wars orLord of the Rings, Charlie wants to “draw out the memory of experiencing the films.”
“I know people will need to be prompted more. I have to do more work to indicate what’s happening—and I don’t want it to be an inside joke between me and the people who know the films as much as I do,” Charlie says. “I want to make people laugh.”
While Charlie would love if his audiences see Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy in advance, he points out that with this series the most interesting aspect is the characters. “They’re flawed—especially the good ones. They make bad choices or act rashly and suffer for it … The characters all experience, and we witness, moments of doubt and/or failure and we get to understand more about them by how they choose to rise up.”
“And I’ve tried to make it as irreverent as possible,” Charlie laughs.