Paul Baker and the Integration of Abilities / Edition 1

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“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 Waco. 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 educators.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Baker is a delightfully colorful West Texas nonagenarian-and a theatrical genius. Over the last 50 years, he has created significant academic theater programs at Baylor and Trinity universities, become the founding artistic director of the Dallas Theater Center (which he ran for over two decades and in doing so helped launch the strong post-World War II American regional theater movement), developed and directed hundreds of original plays, advanced the state of theater architecture and design, and written a seminal text, Integration of Abilities: Exercises for Creative Growth. Edited by writer Flynn and playwright McKinney, this collection of 16 pieces, including one by Baker himself, reflects, illuminates, and pays homage to the innumerable dramatic and creative manifestations of one of the theater world's living treasures. The spaces he designed; his work with playwrights, actors, and, especially, students; his artistic aesthetic; and his dramatic signature piece, Hamlet ESP, all take center stage. A beautiful work and gift for a beautiful man, this is essential for all serious theater collections.-Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780875652719
  • Publisher: Texas Christian University Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 261
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

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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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Tale of Five Cities 1
The Integration of Abilities: Exercises for Creative Growth 11
Paul Baker and Theater Architecture 29
Baylor Theater: The Phoenix Rises 43
Paris and Beyond 55
Hope Springs Eternal: A Different Drummer Times Six 79
Playwrights Are Made, Not Born 95
Chester, Grace, and Me 119
Roots and Wings 147
Find Your Own Path: An Actor's Journey 161
From the Baylor Othello to the Dallas Theater Center 179
"Those Old Boats Don't Float" 189
Booker T. Washington Arts High School 197
Children and Teen Theater 213
Learning About Learning 229
Theater of the Spirit, The Reverend Raymond Bailey 235
Paul Baker Biography 245
Paul Baker's Theaters 251
Contributors 253
Index 256
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