Donald E. Baker

Donald E. Baker

Donald E. Baker has long been fascinated by the story of Ku Klux Klan dominance of Indiana in the 1920’s, and two of his plays set in that era have been produced. "Trade With Klan," concerning choices and compromises forced on small-town Hoosiers by the Klan, was presented by Southwest Theatre Productions of Austin, Texas, January 17-February 20, 2020, and received enthusiastic reviews from Broadway...
Donald E. Baker has long been fascinated by the story of Ku Klux Klan dominance of Indiana in the 1920’s, and two of his plays set in that era have been produced. "Trade With Klan," concerning choices and compromises forced on small-town Hoosiers by the Klan, was presented by Southwest Theatre Productions of Austin, Texas, January 17-February 20, 2020, and received enthusiastic reviews from Broadway World Austin and the Austin Chronicle. It has been published by Next Stage Press.

His play "Grand Dragon in Power," charting the downfall of the Klan political boss of Indiana, was given an online staged reading by Panglossian Productions of Williamsburg, Virginia, in November, 2020. A radio adaptation was performed before a live audience on March 26, 2018, by the Radio Theatre Project at the Studio@620 in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is available on Soundcloud.com.

Baker’s non-Klan plays include “My Brother Paul,” a play with music about the sibling rivalry between Theodore Dreiser and his brother Paul Dresser, a popular song writer and actor. He has also written a one-person play about a Civil War-era steamboat captain entitled “Web-Footed Dreams, or, Paddlewheels and Politics in Peace and War.” His freestanding monologues include "Intestate: A COVID-19 Monologue"; "Ice Box Cake and the Man from Lima," concerning racism in the 1950's; and "A Lynch Mob Foiled," based on a true incident from 1880.

Baker was born and raised in Indiana and earned graduate degrees in history and library science from Indiana University. He worked as a public librarian in Evansville, Indiana, and Cincinnati, Ohio, while writing or editing several books and articles on Midwestern history. He began writing plays after retiring with his husband to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Plays

  • Trade With Klan: A Play about Choices
    FULL LENGTH. A play about the life-altering choices people must make in the face of extremism abetted by Evangelicalism. Resist or collaborate? Risk everything or lie low? Go along or get out? The world of the play is Indiana in the 1920’s, when the Ku Klux Klan pitted Protestant against Catholic, but the religious prejudice and xenophobia of a century ago still echo in contemporary American society. Premiered...
    FULL LENGTH. A play about the life-altering choices people must make in the face of extremism abetted by Evangelicalism. Resist or collaborate? Risk everything or lie low? Go along or get out? The world of the play is Indiana in the 1920’s, when the Ku Klux Klan pitted Protestant against Catholic, but the religious prejudice and xenophobia of a century ago still echo in contemporary American society. Premiered in Austin TX by Southwest Theater Productions, Jan.-Feb., 2020. Published by Next Stage Press.
  • Grand Dragon in Power: A Play in Two Acts
    When the Grand Dragon takes charge, nothing is sacred and no woman is safe.

    D.C. Stephenson, Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, rules Indiana until he is convicted of murder and rape. This play, set in the 1920's and based on a true story, contains startling parallels to the politics of contemporary America.

  • Grand Dragon in Power: A Radio Play
    When the Grand Dragon takes charge, nothing is sacred and no woman is safe.

    D.C. Stephenson, Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, rules Indiana until he is convicted of murder and rape. Set in the 1920's and based on a true story, the play contains startling parallels to the politics of contemporary America.

    The performance by the Radio Theatre Project at the Studo@620 in St....
    When the Grand Dragon takes charge, nothing is sacred and no woman is safe.

    D.C. Stephenson, Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, rules Indiana until he is convicted of murder and rape. Set in the 1920's and based on a true story, the play contains startling parallels to the politics of contemporary America.

    The performance by the Radio Theatre Project at the Studo@620 in St. Petersburg, Florida, on March 26, 2018, is available on Soundcloud.com at: https://soundcloud.com/radiotheatreproject/grand-dragon-in-power-by-donald-e-baker
  • Ice Box Cake and the Man from Lima
    10-Minute Monologue: In the 1950's, while preparing to host her ladies’ bunco club, a white woman of a certain age is shocked to see a person of color walking down her street. The play uses humor to illustrate the casual racism of the time and to demonstrate that fear of young Black men is nothing new in American society. In a Zoom-like environment the only necessary prop is a landline telephone handset.
  • Intestate: A COVID-19 Monologue
    MONOLOGUE: 7-8 minutes. Richard, a fifty-year-old gay man, has lost his partner (and everything else) to COVID-19. Performed by Mike Folie as part of Talking Horse Productions' Original Monologue Contest Season 2 and uploaded to Talking Horse's Facebook page and website.
  • A Lynch Mob Foiled
    MONOLOGUE: 5-6 minutes. A mob attempted to lynch a Negro prisoner in 1880 when Julius August “Gus” Lemcke (pronounced “LEM-key”) was sheriff of Vanderburgh County, Indiana. This monologue is adapted from Lemcke’s own account of this episode in his 1905 published memoir.

    Be advised that the “N word” appears twice in this script. Lemcke himself disapproved of the term and makes clear, through his...
    MONOLOGUE: 5-6 minutes. A mob attempted to lynch a Negro prisoner in 1880 when Julius August “Gus” Lemcke (pronounced “LEM-key”) was sheriff of Vanderburgh County, Indiana. This monologue is adapted from Lemcke’s own account of this episode in his 1905 published memoir.

    Be advised that the “N word” appears twice in this script. Lemcke himself disapproved of the term and makes clear, through his use of quote marks, that it was the mob that was using it to refer to the prisoner.
  • Web-Footed Dreams, or, Paddlewheels in Peace and War
    In this one-man play, a 19th-century steamboat captain tells amusing and harrowing stories of the Civil War on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Adapted from a 1905 memoir by J.A. Lemcke.