The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 642
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Picasso had done?" (p. 58) Baker recast contemporary works, such as McKin-
ney's heralded A Different Drummer, with equal experimentation and creative
Baker was also a bold theater architect. The physical limitations of the prosce-
nium-style stage presented patrons with a passive and therefore limited theater
experience. With the support of Baylor University, Baker constructed Studio
One with a U-shaped stage and swivelled seats for the audience to provide a per-
formance environment that changed with the viewer's perspective. Collaborat-
ing with Frank Lloyd Wright, Baker constructed The New Theater in Dallas in
1959 and the Ruth Taylor Theater on the campus of Trinity University in 1966,
using equally unconventional designs.
Still, Baker's greatest contribution is as an educator. McKinney's statement
that Baker "produced more bad plays than any theater director in America" (p.
95) seems a backhanded compliment if not for the fact that production remains
the only way that students could test their skills. Baker's "Integration of Abilities"
course, replicated throughout the world, demands multi-sensory self-examina-
tion and relies on creative "failure" as a means to an end of creative discovery.
Collaboration, trust, and a similar toleration of "failure" allowed Baker's theater
colleagues to expand their approach into children's theater and explore peda-
gogical methodologies based on the competencies of learning. In a dramatic ex-
ample of the power of higher education's commitment to these ideals, Baker
moved his entire faculty from Baylor to Trinity rather than censor the content of
his company. My admiration for Baker, his colleagues, and Trinity University's
president James Laurie was exceeded only by my sense that such visible commit-
ments to academic freedom appear so infrequently today.
While historians of theater and popular culture might be frustrated by the
lack of comparative context-for example, the pioneering work of Adolphe
Appia and Gordon Craig receive only passing mention-the text is very suc-
cessful in describing the Bakers' contribution and their influence on others.
The book is strongly recommended for scholars and students of theater, peda-
gogy, and the rise of the performing arts in Texas.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004, periodical, 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/m1/720/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.