At 2pm this Wednesday, September the 20th, the youth of Los Angeles will have the privilege of witnessing Pasadena Playhouse’s Sold Out production of Fences, starring Laurence Fishburne and Angela Basset. Playhouse staff expects a full house including one hundred students from Compton and approximately three hundred from other school districts as well as several subscribers. The event was conceived by board member David DiCristofaro, who was inspired by Artistic Director Sheldon Epps’ story of his first Playhouse experience as a young man from Compton. The following is one of Sheldon’s reminiscences of that day, written on the Playhouse’s 75th anniversary.
May 5, 2000
I was first asked to direct here at the Playhouse in 1991. I came out from New York to do auditions for “On Borrowed Time,” and on my first day at the theatre I had an intense “deja vu” experience.
As I sat in the beautiful courtyard, feeling strongly that I’d been there before, I suddenly realized (or remembered) that in fact I had. I was suddenly flooded with the memory of making the trip from Compton - from over the hills - as an eight-year-old boy. Coming to a strange and wonderful place that they told me was a legitimate theatre. And in that beautiful building I saw a great STAR named Ethel Waters giving a Star’s performance in a beautiful play called “The Member of the Wedding” by Carson McCullers.
That was the first time that I had the joy and excitement of seeing a professional theatre production. My memory served me well, for I did indeed see that play right here at the Pasadena Playhouse. This theatre introduced that young boy to the magic of the theatre on an afternoon in 1964. For that gift I will always be grateful.
Before viewing the production, the Compton students will meet with Mr. Epps an hour before the performance, receive copies of the script, and enjoy lunch at the theatre.
If Student Matinees at the Pasadena Playhouse are of interest to you or your youth service organization, please contact Kappy Kilburn at (626) 792-8672 x212.