Daily Archives: September 17, 2008

Randy-Eugene McKinney: “Playwrights are made…”

     “Playwrights are made, not born” was in more than one sense true for most of us in Eugene McKinney’s playwriting class. (See Mr. McKinney’s chapter by that title in the book PAUL BAKER AND THE INTEGRATION OF ABILITIES, TCU Press, Robert Flynn and Eugene McKinney, 2003) And, to stress his point (and to “Prof’s” credit), McKinney begins his chapter with the statement “Paul Baker produced more bad plays than any theater director in American.” I was one of those playwrights but lack the perspective to judge the merit of my plays.


     But one thing I do know is that we were lucky to have been produced. In his day Paul Baker invested in hundreds of writers in that way, as McKinney says, in “raw young talent” with “their callow scripts.” I know that if Prof had not made his investment I wouldn’t be writing today. But I owe Paul Baker (and for that matter Eugene McKinney) so much more. I use his way of looking at the world everyday (as conceptualized in his Integration of Abilities) and it has broadened my perception.


     His was a playwright’s theater. Young playwrights had been ignored in other theaters (I’ve been ignored when I’ve introduced myself as a playwright in theaters today: oh, my, how dare they!) Baker’s theater, however, spawned a “multitude of produced and published plays and dozens of published novels.” I walked into this Mecca for writers when as a high school student I walked into Mr. McKinney’s playwriting class at the Dallas Theater Center. What did I know? Very little. But I hear I’ve stuck with it longer than most. Encouraged from the beginning, no one told me I couldn’t. (Oh, but there was a high school teacher who told me “I had a long way to go.” And how about that college dean who said I would flunk out of Baylor?) Instead I was given a chance. And after all these years (I’m sixty-five), I’m still learning, still striving but feel I have a long way to go. Rather than discouraged, I’m hooked and get joy from typing words on my computer, like in the old days, when I put words on paper.

Good day, Randy Ford



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