Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre Performing ‘At Ninety-Three’ at Tuckerton Library March 19

Mar 13, 2018

The Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre will perform “At Ninety-Three” at the Tuckerton branch of the Ocean County Library at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 19. The performance is free, being part of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s annual Stages Festival, which has offered free or low-cost theater events throughout the state each March for 21 years. Registration, though, is required, online at theoceancountylibrary.org, by phone at 609-296-1470 or at the library, located at 380 Bay Ave.

“At Ninety-Three” is a Summit-based Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre original. Dreamcatcher Producing Artistic Director Laura Ekstrand adapted the poetry of Jan Slepian to create the three-woman show.

Some people reading the name Jan Slepian may guess “At Ninety-Three” is a piece of children’s theater. Slepian wrote a string of popular illustrated children’s books from the 1960s through the 1990s with titles including The Hungry Thing, The Hungry Thing Returns and The Hungry Thing Goes to a Restaurant. She also penned a number of books for adolescent readers such as The Night of the Bozos. Her masterpiece was The Alfred Summer, published in 1981, which was inspired by her brother and featured, somewhat controversially, two handicapped protagonists. It was a National Book Awards finalist in 1981 as well as an honored book for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards.

 The name of the show, however, should tip off readers that “At Ninety-Three” deals with the other end of the age spectrum. Slepian didn’t start writing poetry until a few years before she died at the age of 95. Her first published poetry collection bore a childlike title, Jellybeans in Space. It is not about children, though, not at all. As journalist Bryan Marquard noted in Slepian’s Nov. 7, 2016, Boston Globe obituary, “In the collection’s title poem, she recounted dropping a carton of jellybeans that scattered into a constellation of lost sweets. ‘My favorite blacks/were black holes in the cosmic display,’ she wrote.”

 Bending down and picking up was

beyond me.

Reaching for the stars no longer an

option.

Transfixed, appalled, amused,

I awaited my spaceship. —R.M.

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