Edited by Robert Flynn and Eugene McKinney
“Irritating, arrogant, nuts—and a genius.” That’s what Charles
Laughton said of Paul Baker. He also said, “Paul Baker is one of
the most important minds in the world theater today. He seems to
have invented new ways of doing things, and I think something big
will come out of it.”
Something big did come out of it. Stage productions such as
Othello, Hamlet, and A Cloud of Witnesses brought critics
including Henry Hewes of Saturday Review and photographers
such as Eliot Eliosofon of Life magazine to Baylor Theater in
Baker’s production of Eugene McKinney’s A Different
Drummer received an invitation from CBS TV’s cultural program,
“Omnibus,” to present the play live from their New York studio.
Baker’s production of As I Lay Dying, Robert Flynn’s adaptation
of William Faulkner’s novel, brought an invitation to present the
play at the Theater of Nations in Paris, the first non-Broadway
production to compete there, where it won a Special Jury Award.
That was Paul Baker the theater director. Equally important was
Baker’s role as teacher and mentor in the arts. Architect Arthur
Rogers stated, “No single person has contributed more to (theater
architecture) development than Paul Baker.” Baker’s architectural
visions at Baylor Theater, the Dallas Theater Center, and Trinity
University’s Ruth Taylor Theater have inspired similar
constructions not only in the United States but in places such as
Manila and Seoul.
Baker’s teaching philosophy, based on his famous class “The
Integration of Abilities,” has been inspirational. In education Baker
has been founder, mentor, or director of children’s theaters where
children are the creators of the drama; of the Booker T.
Washington School of the Arts; of the Learning About Learning
Foundation, a retail line of interactive kits that included books and
toys; and dozens of creative programs for children, parents, and
In Paul Baker and the Integration of Abilities Baker tells how a
summer in Paris gave him a new way of looking at theater. Eugene
McKinney describes Baker’s development of writers, and Glenn
Allen Smith demonstrates the use of the elements in creating a
play. In other chapters on acting, directing, speech, and design,
Baker’s ideas gave roots and wings to his students and colleagues.
Despite invitations from theaters in other places, including
Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, and New Zealand, and offers of
positions at other universities, Baker chose to remain in Texas
where he was born and where he lives today.
ROBERT FLYNN is the author of twelve books including North to
Yesterday, Wanderer Springs, and Tie-Fast Country. Flynn’s stage
adaptation of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying premiered at Baylor
Theater and was presented by the Dallas Theater Center at the
Theater of Nations competition in Paris. EUGENE McKINNEY
was associated with Paul Baker for thirty-nine continuous years as
a playwriting professor and playwright-in-residence. He has
written and produced ten plays, four of which were published, and
eight television scripts that have been produced on major networks.
For twenty-four years McKinney and Flynn co-taught a fiction-writing
course at Trinity University.
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