Tag Archives: Eugene McKinney

IT IS TIME DALLAS SAVED Frank Lloyd Wright’s crumbling Kalita Humphreys Theater

Staff photographer

It’s time for Dallas to save Frank Lloyd Wright’s crumbling Kalita Humphreys Theater

It is a sorry treatment that began before this landmark structure was even completed, in 1959, and has pretty much continued unabated ever since. Even this paper has been guilty of defamation. After one of the many unfortunate renovations inflicted upon the theater over the years, my predecessor as architecture critic bemoaned it as a “forlorn ammonite in a sea of asphalt.”

Let me suggest a more generous reading.

The Kalita, which became a city landmark in 2005, is an iconic late work by America’s most singular architect; a masterpiece of structural daring wedged with care into a verdant landscape; and an enveloping jewel that promotes innovative theatrical productions. At least this is how it was conceived, and in many ways how it remains, although its attributes have been veiled and sometimes erased by decades of accumulated degradation, in both the physical and figurative senses.

🎙️ DMN architecture critic Mark Lamster discusses the Kalita Humphreys Theater on KERA’s Art & Seek Podcast:
PAUL BAKER was Randy Ford’s greatest mentor.  Randy followed him from the Dallas Theater Center, Baylor University. Trinity University, and back to the Dallas Theater Center.  Randy received his Masters of Fine Arts from Trinity University at the Dallas Theater Center.  That is a lot of history.

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Paul Baker and the Integration of Abilities Hardcover –  

About the Author

More about the author

Robert Flynn

Robert Flynn, professor emeritus, Trinity University and a native of Chillicothe, Texas, is the author of fourteen books. Nine novels: North To Yesterday; In the House of the Lord; The Sounds of Rescue, The Signs of Hope; Wanderer Springs, The Last Klick, The Devils Tiger, co-authored with the late Dan Klepper, Tie-Fast Country, Echos of Glory.and his most recent Jade:Outlaw. His dramatic adaptation of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying was the United States entry at the Theater of Nations in Paris in l964 and won a Special Jury Award. He is also the author of a two-part documentary, “A Cowboy Legacy” shown on ABC-TV; a nonfiction narrative, A Personal War in Vietnam, an oral history, When I was Just Your Age, and a memoir, Burying the Farm.

Also, three story collections, Seasonal Rain, Living With The Hyenas, Slouching Toward Zion, and a collection of essays, Growing Up a Sullen Baptist. He is co-editor of Paul Baker and the Integration of Abilities.

North to Yesterday received awards from the Texas Institute of Letters and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the New York Times. Seasonal Rain, was co-winner of the Texas Literary Festival Award. Wanderer Springs received a Spur Award from Western Writers of America. Living With the Hyenas received a Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Echoes of Glory received a Spur Award from Western Writers of America. Flynn’s work has been translated into German, Spanish, Dutch, Afrikaans, Malayalam, Arabic, Tamil, Hindi, Kanada, and Vietnamese. Flynn is a member of The Texas Institute of Letters, The Writers Guild of America, Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Associate, and P.E.N. In 1998, he received the “Distinguished Achievement Award” from the Texas Institute of Letters. (See Flynn’s Blog.)

Robert Flynn is a native of Chillicothe, Texas, the best known Chillicothe outside of Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, despite its size. Chillicothe is so small there’s only one Baptist Church. Chillicothe is so small you have to go to Quanah to have a coincidence. Chillicothe is fairly bursting with truth and beauty and at an early age Flynn set out to find it.

His life and work could be described as ‘The Search for Morals, Ethics, Religion, or at least a good story in Texas and lesser known parts of the world’.

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Eugene McKinney Playwright- Died in San Antonio Dec. 1, 2010

Eugene McKinney

Eugene McKinney, professor emeritus of speech and drama, died in San Antonio Dec. 1, 2010. He was 88. McKinney, a well-regarded playwright who scripted several stage and television productions, was Trinity’s playwright-in-residence for 24 years. He left Baylor University in 1942 to join the U.S. Army during World War II. While a sergeant with the 3rd Army in Europe, McKinney received a battlefield commission and became a 2nd lieutenant. After the war, he rturned to Baylor, earned his bachelor’s in 1947 and his master’s in 1948; then joined the faculty there. In 1959, he became a professor of playwriting at the Dallas Theater Center. He became director of the Center’s graduate program in 1984. In 1963, McKinney was one of several faculty members who came to Trinity with Paul Baker after Baker resigned as chairman of Baylor’s drama department over artistic diferences. McKinney retired from Trinity in 1987. Twelve of McKinney’s plays were produced, including A DIFFERENT DRUMMER, CROSS-EYED BEAR, THE ANSWER IS TWO, and OF TIME AND THE RIVER. He also wrote for television, and his scripts included “A Different Drummer” for CBS, “So Deeply in the Well Known Heart Of” for NBC, and “I Came, I Saw, I Left” for ABC. His is survived by his wife, Treysa, and son, Michael.


Goodbye friend, teacher, and mentor: Eugene McKinney
Randy Ford

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Texas A & M University Press Consortium- PAUL BAKER AND THE INTEGRATION OF ABILITIES edited by Robert Flynn and Eugene McKinney

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.

To Order Please Call- 800-826-8911

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Randy Ford Author-on our destiny

      As Americans we all have the right to choose our own destiny.   We may have that right; but many people, in spite of the rhetoric we hear, don’t have unlimited means or opportunity.   Some people may choose a destiny of “a different drummer,” (a DIFFERENT DRUMMER is the name of a play by my friend and mentor Eugene McKinney) perhaps, even when it brings universal scrutiny.   An impulse may take one in a direction different from everyone else: this we sometimes applaud and sometimes criticize.   In this regard, I once visualized myself in a romantic fashion as a professional canner, not one who cans meats or fruits but someone who picks up cans along the road and sells them.   But that lifestyle would not have satisfied me for long.   On the contrary, I needed more complexity and conflict in my life, just as my friend Ray Hubener, after a week or so on that beach in Vengurla, needed to get off it.   The problem was I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go (not to mention having a wife who had a mind of her own).   My task remained the same, however: how to invent myself from what I had been given, or reinvent myself, which is a continuous process.   This has never been an easy task for me, and I’ve often wondered what would’ve happened if Peg and I (to my career as a playwright) had chosen to live in Greece (where I had contacts in the theater) instead of Austria (where I also had contacts).   Typical of me, I waited to make that choice (on our trip overland from India to Europe) until we actually reached the fork in the highway in Turkey, where one way led to Greece and the other way to Bulgaria.

      The truth here is that our destiny at the divergence of those two highways could’ve just as easily rested on the flip of a coin.   Happenstance, as when destiny is often determined by it, the choices offered and the people met: this is what we have to be open to, and not dismiss, and at the same time be prepared to miss opportunities.   The idea that life for us would’ve been better in Athens than Vienna now would be pure conjecture: who knows what life would’ve been like there.   Learning more about Greek tragedy than grand opera would’ve been one of the differences.   More importantly, and obvious, a different highway would’ve taken us down a different route.   There however isn’t anything at this point that would convince me that we would’ve been better off.   Reality now easily trumps fantasying.   What could’ve been more threatening than arriving in Vienna busted when there was a telegraph strike in the United States?

      Randy Ford

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Randy-Finding the balls to write

      The time came for us to go into the Peace Corps.   We ended up in the Philippines instead of somewhere in Africa because the Peace Corp foiled an attempt by my draft board to get me by accelerating their selection process.   My wife and I lived the next two years of our lives in Manila, teaching, and, for me, also working in a theater in Fort Santiago, a national shrine.   To say the least, it was a very busy time in our lives; but no busier for me, as a self-professed workaholic, than I have been all of my life.   Then the question arises why in the world, after a very productive time as a writer at the Dallas Theater Center, I didn’t write at all during my stint in the Peace Corps (or for that matter while we traveled throughout South East Asia and around the world mainly by bicycle.)

      That has been my story, that creatively I have gone through stagnant periods when I lacked the confidence to write.   Yes, confidence, it takes confidence to write, and in my case, after losing contact with Mr. Eugene McKinney and Paul Baker at the Dallas Theater Center and the kick of an audience, I had to find the impetus to write within my self.   After many failed attempts at writing over an extended period of time (I don’t know how many years it was now), I became discouraged and honestly thought I couldn’t write.   I would go around telling people I was a writer, but basically I was lying, or was I?   Didn’t I keep trying to write?   Didn’t I put in the time?   It’s kind of a blur now, but it seems I as if did.

      Every time I responded to the urge to write by sitting at a typewriter, with pen and paper, or at a computer and actively commenced work…let me repeat “and actively commenced work”…something creative came out of it.   Every time?   I think so.   Not finding the motivation to start seems to have been my biggest hang up.   (I wouldn’t call it a writer’s block, because at all cost I try to avoid them (blocks), by not thinking in that way.)

      Mr. McKinney, what was happening here?   Why have so many of your students stop writing?   What happened?   Maybe all of those people are still writing, are closet writers, but no longer have the desire or whatever else it takes to put their work out there.   Perhaps they have been told they’re not any good.   Or they’ve told themselves that.   This can all be true.

      All of this was true for me.   But now I’m writing.   To me, I’m a writer, and that makes me happy. Though I may not be any good…published, produced or not and with all the complex baggage of writing without recognition brings…I have to think I can write before I can: here I have to not listen to myself when I tell myself I can’t.   And if I don’t do that, or not pay attention to other resistance out there, then I’m open for a joyous ride, which sometimes when I think about it makes me sad because I ain’t getting any younger.   And on that said note…

Good day, Randy Ford

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Randy-Eugene McKinney: “Playwrights are made…”

     “Playwrights are made, not born” was in more than one sense true for most of us in Eugene McKinney’s playwriting class. (See Mr. McKinney’s chapter by that title in the book PAUL BAKER AND THE INTEGRATION OF ABILITIES, TCU Press, Robert Flynn and Eugene McKinney, 2003) And, to stress his point (and to “Prof’s” credit), McKinney begins his chapter with the statement “Paul Baker produced more bad plays than any theater director in American.” I was one of those playwrights but lack the perspective to judge the merit of my plays.


     But one thing I do know is that we were lucky to have been produced. In his day Paul Baker invested in hundreds of writers in that way, as McKinney says, in “raw young talent” with “their callow scripts.” I know that if Prof had not made his investment I wouldn’t be writing today. But I owe Paul Baker (and for that matter Eugene McKinney) so much more. I use his way of looking at the world everyday (as conceptualized in his Integration of Abilities) and it has broadened my perception.


     His was a playwright’s theater. Young playwrights had been ignored in other theaters (I’ve been ignored when I’ve introduced myself as a playwright in theaters today: oh, my, how dare they!) Baker’s theater, however, spawned a “multitude of produced and published plays and dozens of published novels.” I walked into this Mecca for writers when as a high school student I walked into Mr. McKinney’s playwriting class at the Dallas Theater Center. What did I know? Very little. But I hear I’ve stuck with it longer than most. Encouraged from the beginning, no one told me I couldn’t. (Oh, but there was a high school teacher who told me “I had a long way to go.” And how about that college dean who said I would flunk out of Baylor?) Instead I was given a chance. And after all these years (I’m sixty-five), I’m still learning, still striving but feel I have a long way to go. Rather than discouraged, I’m hooked and get joy from typing words on my computer, like in the old days, when I put words on paper.

Good day, Randy Ford



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