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As Dallas Theater Center Begins New Life in Wyly, It Bids Farewell to Founder Paul Baker

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In April 2008, our Elaine Liner spoke with Dallas Theater Center Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty about his "once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing" meeting with DTC founder Paul Baker, who actor Charles Laughton once famously called "irritating, arrogant, nuts -- and a genius ... one of the most important minds in the world theater today." There have been countless tales told about Baker, the Hereford-born, Waxahachie-raised visionary behind the DTC, who came to Dallas in '59 to act as its first artistic director while also teaching at Baylor; there's even been a book by and about the man, Paul Baker and the Integration of Abilities, not to mention the Dallas-based Baker Idea Institute that continues to spread a gospel best illustrated in his adaptation of Hamlet, Hamlet ESP, which debuted at the Kalita Humphreys exactly 39 years tomorrow. Wrote Baker in the intro to the published play, in which three actors played the title role, "This is the clearest HAMLET yet to be presented." Take that, Bill Shakespeare.

But this morning, Elaine sends words of the final chapter: Baker died yesterday at his home in Waelder, southeast of Austin. Baker, who left the DTC in 1982, was 98. Mark Lowry at Theater Jones has the obituary, which runs just as the Dallas Theater Center moves into its new home at the Wyly Theatre in the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

Update at 6 p.m.: Theater Jones has posted this interview with Baker, recorded in May of this year. It's the first of several forthcoming, and in it he talks about "arriving in Dallas and not settling in as easily as he thought he would; former Dallas Morning News critic John Rosenfield; and the great Margo Jones."

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