Sheldon Epps returned to Carnegie Mellon University on his book signing tour for My Own Directions. Epps is a legendary director, having spearheaded theatre productions on Broadway and abroad. He served as the Artistic Director of the Pasadena Playhouse for twenty years. At this stop as his alma mater, he shares reflections from his book with drama students.
Sheldon has a soft-spoken but commanding presence. As a professor surprises Epps with a birthday cake, he asks students to gather around to share in the celebration. If there is one thing a college student loves, it’s breaking out into song, even if it is “Happy Birthday.”
While Sheldon is no longer a student, he brings a mastery to share with the next generation.
My Own Directions: A Black Man’s Journey in the American Theatre is Sheldon Epps’ personal deep dive into trails blazed. His memoir reflects on a time when being black in theater meant you might be the “one and only.” Though race plays a part in any American dialogue, Epps focuses on creating his own standards rather than being judged by others’. He challenges younger artists to think about setting higher standards for the next generation through reading the journey of his own.
The press release that heralded Epps’ quick stop at CMU read like a tour of theaters and performances. One would be happy to see only a handful in a lifetime. However, Sheldon Epps is far from retired, now serving as the Senior Artistic Advisor at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. There, he continues to pen the character of a lifetime – himself.