We live in a very Star Wars household. This was the case before my son arrived - my husband grew up with Star Wars, and I confess when we bought our first house, I had to limit the number of Star Wars action figures that made their way into our bedroom. (He has since upgraded to larger figures, and sneaks another shelf in occasionally.) So when we heard that Star Wars Identities was coming to Alberta, he was justifiably ecstatic.
The travelling exhibition is at the Telus World of Science in Edmonton until early April. Get out there for spring break! It's well worth the drive. We found an inexpensive hotel with a pool and the boys were in heaven.
The exhibit is interactive, allowing guests to accompany Luke and Anakin Skywalker from their origins on Tatooine, to the friends and mentors they meet during adolescence, through the choices they make that will define them as adults. We're invited to do the same, strapping on wristbands that activate computer chips at 10 stations throughout the exhibit, allowing visiting families to explore the idea of identity, and how components - from birth and environment to choices we make along our life journey - help define who we are: species, genes, parents, culture, mentors, friends, events, occupation, personality, and values. The concept was developed by the Montreal Science Centre along with a team of scientific advisers, to illustrate the process of developing fictional characters, and how similarly the events and factors of your own life make all of us who we are.
But beyond, that the exhibition was stunningly cool for those of us who grew up with the Star Wars trilogy (and beyond) - Yoda was there! Vader was there! Princess Leia in her iconic bikini (from the scene at Jabba's palace) and Han Solo frozen in carbonite. And the wookie - Chewbacca was there! For real!
You could see everything up close, checking out the sometimes hilarious simplicity of the costumes (often made out of pieces of cardboard, metal washers and the like) and the amazing intricacy of the ships - the actual models are there as well. So that it's not too crowded, they start groups at 20 minute intervals, ensuring there aren't enormous lineups in front of each display case or at each computer station. It's a great way to enjoy the exhibit without the crush of crowds. You could take your time, stroll through and back again if you wanted to - the whole thing takes about an hour - an hour and a half if you're with die-hard Star Wars fans.
At the end, the character you developed along the way is presented to you - and emailed as well, if you choose. The kids loved this part.
If you can't make it, mix up a batch of Jedi muffins instead - these are the boys' current favourites as they play Star Wars - with vintage action figures, of course.
Jedi Bran Muffins
2 cups All Bran cereal
1 3/4 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt, thinned with milk
1/2 cup sugar (white or brown)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
a handful of raisins or blueberries (optional)
In a large bowl stir together the cereal and buttermilk; let stand for 10 minutes, until soft. Preheat the oven to 375F.
Stir the sugar, oil and egg into the bran mixture. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir until almost combined; add the raisins or berries and stir just until blended.
Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups that have been lined with paper liners or sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Makes a dozen muffins.