TABLE OF CONTENTS
BU Records: Baylor/Paul Baker Controversy, Inclusive: 1961-1963, Bulk: 1962-1963
Paul Baker (1911-2009) was an American professor, actor, director, and author. Baker earned a Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship to complete his Master's Degree at Yale University in 1939. He would later become president of the Southwest Theater Association in 1956 and president of the National Theater conference in 1958, and was distinguished by many awards in theater throughout his life. He began his time at Baylor in 1934 as a drama professor. Six years later, in 1940, he helped create the drama department at Baylor, and was appointed chair of the department. He was known as an innovative drama teacher, including designing an auditorium known as Studio One theater, in which the audience sat in swiveling chairs surrounded by six stages. From 1959 through 1982 Baker also taught graduate courses in drama at the Dallas Theater Center.
Baker remained in his position as chair of the drama apartment until 1963. That year, Baker had obtained the rights to produce Eugene O'Neill's play "Long Day's Journey into Night." The agreement he had made with O'Neill's wife had prohibited Baker to edit the script in any way. As the play was performed for the public, several complaints were made about profanity and the adult themes of the play. Baker allegedly supervised the production of the play despite being aware of Baylor's policy against the use of profanity in public performance, eventually leading then-current Baylor President Abner McCall to shut down future productions of the play. Baker and his department staff would eventually leave to teach at Trinity University, where Baker taught until 1982.
Public response to the controversy was covered nationwide. Newspapers, radio, and possibly television broadcasts all covered the event, as Baker was a well-known figure in the theater world. Baker first claimed in an interview with the Waco News-Tribune (now the Waco Tribune-Herald) that President McCall's directive to shut down the play had come as a complete surprise; however, McCall's testimony to the Board of Trustees of Baylor University alleged this was not the case. McCall also asserted that when he contacted Baker about complaints of the production, Baker himself asked him to give official orders to shut down production so that his reputation in the theater world would not be tarnished. The production of the play at Baylor, cancellation of the play, and Baylor and Baker's responses to it is still controversial, over 50 years later.
Materials include extensive correspondence of Baylor University President Abner Vernon McCall concerning the closing of the play "Long Day's Journey into Night" and the resulting resignation of Paul Baker and eleven members of the drama department. Also included are thousands of letters received from the public giving opinions on the matter, as well as several documents reflecting President McCall's opinion on the matter to the board of trustees of Baylor University. Also included are some newspaper clippings dealing with the controversy.
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General condition: Excellent.
BU Records: Baylor/Paul Baker Controversy, Accession #BU/394, Box #, Folder #, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
Accession No. BU/394.
Described by Daniel Earles. Released on 2017-07-13.