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Paul Baker

Paul Baker

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Paul Baker ’32, professor emeritus of speech and drama at Trinity, who gained national recognition for his work in theater and drama education and who was the founding artistic director of the Dallas Theater Center. He died Sunday, Oct. 25, at the age of 98 in a hospital near his central Texas ranch close to Waelder.

Professor Baker was born in 1911 in Hereford. He attended Trinity University’s Waxahachie campus and earned a bachelor’s degree in drama. He would later receive a master’s in drama from Yale University.

In 1934, he accepted an offer to teach at Baylor University. Two years later, Professor Baker traveled to England, Germany, Russia, and Japan to observe theater from around the world. Among the many new ideas he brought back was the plan for an innovative theater, Studio One, which featured swivel chairs so audiences could follow the action across six stages.

During World War II, Professor Baker joined the United States Army serving as a Special Services Entertainment Officer in Iceland and Paris, France. After the war, he received the Legion of Merit for his contribution.

In 1959, Professor Baker co-founded the Dallas Theater Center, which would later serve as a graduate school for Trinity’s speech and drama department. He remained the artistic director of the Theater Center for 23 years.

In 1963, Professor Baker returned to Trinity in dramatic fashion, leaving Baylor over a controversy surrounding his staging of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night and bringing Baylor’s entire drama department with him.

At Trinity, Professor Baker published Integration of Abilities: Exercises for Creative Growth, which was based on classes he taught at both Baylor and Trinity and articulated his theory of using all the senses in creative work.

He remained at Trinity as chair of the department until he retired in 1976. That same year, he founded the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas was its first principal.

Professor Baker received numerous honors during his long career including three Rockefeller Foundation grants, the first Rodgers and Hammerstein Award for outstanding contribution to theater in the Southwest and, in 2007, the Texas Medal of Arts for his contributions to arts education. He also received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Trinity in 1978.

Professor Baker is survived by his wife, Kitty, and daughters Robyn, Retta, and Sallie ’69. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5, at the Presbyterian Church of Gonzales.

A public memorial service is schedule for 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 7, in the Children's Theater in the Rosewood Center for Family Arts in Dallas.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Dallas Children’s Theater, the Presbyterian Church of Gonzales, or the charity of your choice.

Interview of Paul Baker. First in a series shot in May '99.
Shot by: http://www.theaterjones.com
Theater Jones is a site covering the Dallas-Fort Worth theater and performing arts scene with news, reviews, commentary, gossip and guest columns. The site was co-founded by Elaine Liner ’76, a Trinity theater graduate who also attended the Dallas Theater Center.



© 2009 Trinity University