“Inspircation” Day 16: Secret Cinema, Star Wars style

Yesterday, was such a full day, I didn’t even get a chance to blog at the end of it. So I’m doing a bit of catch up.

It was our first full day in London, and boy did we make the most of it. After a quick breakfast in our hotel, we hoofed it south towards Westminster Abbey. Marcie and I always prefer walking to transit, when possible, because, of course, you get to see so much more of a place. In this instance, we inadvertently ended up trekking along part of the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk. It borders some beautiful park land . . .

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We then arrived at Westminster Abbey and went inside to explore. I had been there previously, but it was the first time for Marcie and my mom. Collectively, I think our favourite part was the Poets’ Corner, where many famous writers are either interred or memorialized, including Chaucer, Austen, Wordsworth, Byron, Dickens . . . well, the list goes on and on.

We couldn’t take any photos inside, which started to really kill me as I encountered door after wonderful door. But at least we got a few pictures of the abbey just outside.

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And, as it happened, as we exited the abbey, they were sonorously ringing the bells. Yesterday marked the day that the length of Queen Elizabeth II’s rule surpassed that of Queen Victoria. We heard that Queen Elizabeth wanted to keep the celebrations low key (after all, this occasion also marks the anniversary of her father’s death).

We stopped to get a picture at Big Ben, along with the hordes of other tourists (which is a fortuitous thing, since there are lots of people to take photos of one another). So here’s my big belly in front of Big Ben:

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Afterwards, we headed to the Churchill War Museum. This is an amazing installation. Much of it is in intact from the way it was left at the end of World War II. It’s truly like a rabbit warren down there, with passages turning this way and that. It’s well worth the visit, but just make sure you do it in order and not get turned around like we did. (Which, should come as no surprise, given our history of getting lost on this trip).

I loved this wall of keys. These are the original keys from the period, which were used to open the various rooms.

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And here’s an original map—in fact, all the maps there were intact, left exactly as they were in 1945.

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And here’s the office of Churchill’s secretary:

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As you can see by the above photos, the lighting wasn’t great, so we didn’t take a ton of photos and instead just chose to enjoy the experience.

Here’s a few doors from the day’s explorations . . .

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Then, in the evening, came the BIG EVENT. Months ago, Marcie and I booked tickets for Secret Cinema Star Wars. I had only found out about this event after we had planned our trip and since we were already planning to be in London during its run, we decided we better go. The tickets were quite expensive, but now, after having gone, I would have paid double.

Actually, I can’t even begin to express how amazing and surreally awesome Secret Cinema Star Wars. It was like walking into the movie. Or like playing some sort of Dungeons & Dragons game—except that it was the 5D version (6D, if you count the Force—and why wouldn’t you?).

Marcie and I had both been assigned identities months ago; she was Losa Starkiller and I was Joruus Macaque. Since we have been on the road a lot this year and coming all the way from Canada, we had not pre-ordered costumes. We had assumed we’d be able to buy costumes on site, so were much distressed when we discovered the shop is far away from the event. So, we arrived in our plain old clothes and there wasn’t much we could do about it. Everyone else, it seemed to us, was dressed head to toe in the most amazing costumes!

As it turned out, we did arrive at a stage of the event where we could buy some simple accoutrements, and we did—instantly we felt better.

But I get ahead of myself. Basically, the first part of the event focused on immersing us—the audience, the participants, whatever you want to call us—in the world that you seen in Star Wars: A New Hope.

Together, Losa Starkiller and I played Sabaac with Lando Calrissian, bartered with Jawas to buy valuable spice, drank engine oil in the cantina, watched the Modal Nodes play, sat at Aunt Beru’s kitchen (she served blue milk), witnessed Chewbacca break out of a Mos Eisley prison, were interrogated by imperial officers, personally booked passage to Alderaan with Han Solo, and were recruited—just the two of us out of at least two hundred people—by General Madine to prowl hidden corridors on the Death Star so that we could located Stormtrooper TK-144 and negotiate procurement of the secret plans vital for destroying the Death Star.

Which we did. Then watched Obi-Wan fight Vader, Luke destroy above said Death Star, and stood in the award ceremony to see the rebel heroes get their medals.

At the very end, we watched a version of The Empire Strikes Back. I say a version, because while the film played there was some live-action events going on, too.

There were no photos, phones, or devices of any kind allowed at this event, which made it an even more immersive experience. Honestly, the event would have been wrecked otherwise. But we did get a couple of photos outside at the end.

If you can go to this event . . . GO. Honestly. No matter how many words I write about it, it wouldn’t do the experience any justice. Best. Play. Ever.

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Best. Play. Ever.

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