When 'dreams that you dare to dream really do come true'

York College faculty member to have Oz play published

John Baker, associate professor of communication, says that he screamed and shouted a bit when he got a recent letter in the mail from Big Dog Publishing.

It was the letter he’d been waiting for, the one that represented a dream coming true. The letter was to inform him that his play, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, was being published.

“It was really cool,” he said of receiving the letter. “I am now a published playwright, which is something that I’ve always wanted…What it’s given me is validation.”

Baker originally wrote the play, which is an adaptation of one of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, in 1998. It was directed and produced by a theater company in Ashland, Wisconsin that year, but the project lay dormant for more than a decade afterward.

In the spring of 2010, Baker was looking for a show to direct at the Yorkshire Playhouse (community theater) for his annual Children’s Theatre program but couldn’t find anything he liked. Then he remembered his own show. After some serious revision, Baker decided it was worth another shot at the stage. 

The summer production was a hit. He continued to tweak the script throughout the production and made plans to seek publication.

The first rejection he received was positive. “They told me it wasn’t right for their catalog, but they thought it was a great show and that it ought to be published,” he says. They also included a list of other publishing companies they thought would be interested. One of them was Big Dog Publishing.

The story is an adventure through the marvelous land of Oz, filled with memorable characters such as Unc Nunkie, Ojo the Unlucky, the Glass Cat, and a giant named Yoop. Baker says he’s been a fan of the Oz books for many years. “They are imaginative and well-written,” he says, noting that in his own time (early 20th century), Baum was as popular as J.K. Rowling.

Baker's play will be available in the July 2012 Big Dog Publishing and Norman Maine catalogs.

Baker is currently working on two other writing projects: an adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which he plans to perform with the York College Traveling Children’s Theatre in the spring of 2012 (“We will be melting a witch on stage,” he says with a wink), and a show based on Grimm’s fairytales for production with the Yorkshire Playhouse Children’s Theatre in the summer of 2012. 

Baker with cast of Patchwork Girl of Oz
John Baker and the cast of The Patchwork Girl of Oz at the Yorkshire Playhouse, summer 2010

 


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