Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Not-Back-to-School picnic, Yeast Nation, and the start of the semester! (duhn-duhn-DUHN!)

Well, it's apple season, the leaves are turning... And it's finally time for school!
The start of the semester was heralded by the Not-Back-to-School Picnic, a picnic held every year in Central Park.  It's open to all homeschoolers, even the new ones.  I love coming and meeting the new recruits!  
I've always thought it must be intimidating for recent additions to the community, to be at the picnic for the first time.  
BUT I've come up with a solution:  the SALT club.
Years ago, one of my closest friends moved to Australia, and it was really tough on me.  My mom suggested creating a group where homeschoolers meet up, break the ice, socialize, and make new friends to help me brighten up.  So she and I sent out an email that was circulated amongst the homeschool community.  Boom!  I got nearly a dozen responses!  The first SALT club meeting (Society for Artistic and Literary Teens) was held at Edgar's Cafe (where Edgar Allan Poe lived).  They had FANTASTIC cheesecake, and we all brought books to share.  
It's a shame that that cafe closed down.  BUT I am SO grateful that my mom suggested doing this!  We meet on alternate Fridays (more or less) at museums or cute little artsy cafes to discuss our interests, do fun, creative activities, or dress outrageously for conversation starters.
So at the picnic I meet the homeschool cadets, make their acquaintance, and give them my email.  I usually bring a balloon for people to recognize me, but this time I wore a very conspicuous Steampunk outfit. 
Most of my classes had already started, not to mention rehearsals for a play that I and 15 of my friends were in, and the four of the parents (including my own mom, who is in charge of music) were directing. The play?  Yeast Nation.
The play is by the two guys who wrote Urinetown (Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman).You may not have heard of it before, as it was only done twice or thrice (I forgot which), and wasn't quite as successful as Urinetown. BUT Greg's wife, Ayun (homeschool mommy and writer), suggested that WE might be able to do it!  
The play takes place at the bottom of the sea, at the beginning of time, when life was but the humble yeast cell!  (although that is not true scientifically at all, kids.)

All of the characters are named Jan (pronounced yahn), ruled by the King, Jan-the-Elder (played by Ayun's son, Milo).  (Coincidently, the yeasts eat SALT!) They all value stasis, and there's a FAMINE going on.  They eat salts.  There's a lot of deception, romance (I get to be in a love triangle!), one-liners, and death.  It's rather cool how all of the yeast are anthropomorphized! It's a VERY serious play.   But we're all single-cellular organisms.  So it's basically microscopic Shakespeare.
The rehearsals all take place at our friend Coco's house.  Coco plays Jan-the-Sly, the devious princess that gets everyone killed.  She's very excited about playing a villain, having played "golden-hearted orphans" in previous plays.  Her parents, Ben and Tiina, also direct the play, and they very generously lent us their studio space for rehearsals and performance.  Ben and Ayun's directing style is very spontaneous, and they are extremely talented at couching our acting, as well as being very theatrical themselves.  (I don't think I need to tell you that they're actors...?)  Tiina is a dancer, so I THINK she's directing dance.  My mom mans the keyboard, and directs the music.  And oh, my gosh, the choral bits sound GLORIOUS after she's worked with us!  She and Tiina are rather good at bringing us back into line when we're rowdy.
My mom and those other three worked their butts off all summer, planning the scheduling and whatnot. I don't want to give too much away... but all I can say is that the performance is going to be spectacular.  So come and see it!  Performances are on the weekend before Thanksgiving, in Williamsburg.
I also have biology class taught by another homeschool mommy.  She's my friend Luna's mom.  (remember Luna from the previous post?  The girl with a mohawk?  Except she shaved off her mohawk now.)
Her name is Holly, and oh my god, she is amazing!  First of all, she had a baby.  She had a baby and the baby is being held when she's talking about homeostasis or the process of experimentation.  She worked as a science teacher some years ago, she's fluent in two and a half languages, and she's an actor!   
Most of the class in in Yeast Nation, so she is incorporating the subject of microbiology into her classes.  Holly promised to bring in microscopes next week, so I'm rather excited about that!
One of her first homework assignments was to watch a documentary about cells called "Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell".  I never thought I'd say this about a documentary- but it was thrilling!  Just like a sci-fi movie, and I enjoyed every bit of it!  The animation was beautiful, and I learned SO MUCH.  Not to mention it's narrated by David Tennant.  i highly recommend watching it.  
Welp, I've got work to do!  I will blog soon.

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