I spoke with actor, Ross Gosla, about his one – man show, Desert Warrior, playing at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. You can still catch the show Sunday 6/18 at 4pm, Friday 6/23 at 7pm, and Saturday 6/24 at 9:30pm.
Read on to learn how Star Wars inspired this artist to make a live show.
Tell me about the inception of this piece.
Well you can say this story begins back in 2011 with a film I was a lead in that ended up inciting an attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi Libya…
But!….as far as this piece goes…
I joined an acting studio (Studio 24/7) when I moved back to Hollywood in 2014, one of the exercises in class is called a personal monologue, and I did one about a hunting trip I took with my dad back when I was a kid…and from that, my coach pointed out that the story was incredibly fascinating and was a solo show on its own….of course, like all rebellious artists I was like, ” a one man show? Hello no!”
But then I put up a couple more pieces – about a film I was in that caused an international incident, about my trip to Austin for the Star Wars Episode 7 open call, about getting a black belt in taekwondo…and things started falling into place….Coach again suggested one man show, and I could start to see a through line in some of these watershed moments that make up a persons life and an artists journey….and then towards the end of last year something clicked. I was struggling (as most actors can attest, when you’re not booking work you can go a little crazy!), and not really in sync with myself….but then Coach’s voice of a one man show kept popping up in the brain…and so I researched the Hollywood Fringe as a platform to tell this story and then got to work
So, it’s been about two and a half years coming, but I started really putting things together in January, discovering how the pieces all fit, and now in June, I have a show that I’m immensely proud of and something I think touches everyone on some level.
Theatre has been the love of my life for 15 years. It’s truly where I feel at home as a performer. There is something about live performance that is simply magical.
How did you get involved with The Fringe Festival and why did you choose that Festival?
Hollywood Fringe is a very open and welcoming community, I’m grateful for everything they do.
Every year, Fringe gives performance artists a platform to create their art without restriction. From what I understand, they are all inclusive, meaning if you have a project you’re passionate about making, they will work with you and get it up.
From my theatre background, Fringe Festivals around the world specialize in non-traditional, experimental, off-the-beaten path theatre. I felt as though my story would fit that mold and I chose this year because it was time to tell this story. Can’t really explain what that means. So I simply applied, talked with a venue manager, and got to work.
What is your background in theater?
Started in high school with plays and musicals, then moved on to Arizona State where I received my BA in Theatre. While there, I dove head first into the community, and did everything possible – performed on the main stage, hung lights, was a carpenter, ran the student theatre company, directed…anything and everything.
My primary training as an actor is based in this approach called Viewpoints – it’s a way of breaking down time and space as it relates to the stage. There was some Method, some Meisner, some more experimental work sprinkled in…I’m incredibly grateful for the wide exposure, it has definitely given me a varied toolbox.
After graduation, helped found two companies, one of which is still creating kick ass theatre in Phoenix.
And now, I work facilities at the Complex, a rental house for all kinds of productions, rehearsals, auditions…it’s an amazing community to be part of…theatre is good for the soul.
What do you hope people take away from your show?
People make mistakes. Big ones. And it is really hard to forgive yourself, but you have to.
And pursue your dream, regardless of the inevitable shitstorm you will face.
You worked with a friend on this project. Tell me about that relationship and why you chose to work together.
David Beatty is a beast! Love the hell out of him…We met through Studio 24/7. When I joined he had just wrapped season 1 of his web series Get Spy, I watched it, loved it, knew I had to work with him…then we worked on Shanley’s Lonely Impulse of Delight for class and had a blast…we discovered that we share similar training , artistic aesthetic, and a love of Star Wars…so when it came time to bring on a director, David was the first and only choice.
And I’ll just say he is a master…a great listener, respectful of the creative process, doesn’t push too hard but will light a fire when he needs to…honestly, everyone should work with him because he is that good.
Just from the description alone your story involves some geek themes. Do you describe yourself as a geek and what are you into?
Oh yeah!!! Haha! Definitely a geek…
Grew up with Power Rangers, Pokémon, Trek….but mainly I’m a huge Star Wars fan…before Disney scrapped the EU as cannon, I prided myself on being a walking Wookieepedia
The play is staged as a Jedi Trial…trial as in both meanings, a test and a court proceeding…looking at past events in his life, a Padawan feels as though he is tainted by the Dark Side and through the Trial that is the play, we discover if he actually is a servant of the Sith or if he joins the Jedi.
Why use fandom to tackle important issues?
When something is integral to who you are as a person, as Star Wars is to me, it blends into your art. I could even point to Star Wars as the reason I wanted to get acting in the first place…it sparked that initial creativity, got the imagination going…it would be a dream come true to play in that universe.
But the point of using the fandom lens in this piece, is primarily for structure and character…it helps ground the piece in a reality (albeit a pseudo-fictional one), it lends humor to an otherwise dark and tense event, and it makes the Padawan character relatable – it’s a Star Wars fan who is an actor trying to get into the Star Wars films, whose path gets derailed when a movie he was part of causes an international incident.
And finally, where can people find more about you and what’s up next for you?
I got the social medias going :
fb – Ross John Gosla
IG – @rossgosla
And I’m working as stunt coordinator on a short called Littany for Mr.President and David and I are collaborating again on his passion project Wasteland.