BOOK CORNER: Sheldon Epps’ debut book describes his life in theater

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By Marissa Wells

Contributing Writer

“My Own Directions: A Black Man’s Journey in the American Theatre,” by Sheldon Epps, is a memoir recounting the author’s roller coaster journey in theater.

The book, which Epps describes as a “theatrical memoir,” consists of a prologue, epilogue and chapters that are identified as “acts and scenes.”

“My Own Directions” was inspired by the author’s unique journey in American theater, which has spanned more than three decades.

“Working on this memoir has been a reflective journey that has brought back vivid images of moments in my long and blessed career,” Epps said. “It has also been a reminder of the many challenges that have resulted from being ‘chased by race’ personally and professionally.”

In the book, Epps shares moments from his life such as going to see his first professional production at the age of 8 at Pasadena Playhouse, seeing plays on Broadway with his mother, being able to work with artists such as Phylicia Rashad and Diahann Carroll, and much more.

“A kid from Compton, as I call myself, managed to get to direct on Broadway, off-Broadway, in London, and then become artistic director of Pasadena Playhouse,” Epps said.

It was important for the author to create a book that could expose and spark conversation around the still extant issues in American theater.

“It’s certainly better than when I was coming up and when I started at Pasadena Playhouse and there are now a number of theaters that have men and women of color in substantial positions but not enough and not often enough,” Epps said. “I think there’s still room for us to grow in those areas and for the playing field to be equal…”

“My Own Directions” is intended for those that enjoy theater, theater practitioners (directors, writers, actors, artistic directors, etc.), fans of Broadway, young artists and students.

“I hope that this book contributes to the ongoing evolution of the theater industry,” Epps said. “I look forward to having readers join me on this journey through my life and career.”

In addition to being an author and leader in American theater, Epps is the senior artistic advisor at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. He also is a television director.

Epps will host a book signing at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena on Nov. 10.

“My Own Directions: A Black Man’s Journey in the American Theatre” is available for $29.95 (paperback) and $13.49 (Kindle) on Amazon.

 

 

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