Faculty Q&A: Meet Adjunct Faculty Member Heather Glenn Wixson
Adjunct Faculty member Heather Glenn Wixson has been teaching GBCC’s Fundamentals of Acting course since January and brings not only years of teaching experience to the College but also has an extensive career in acting, performing Off-Broadway and for regional theatres across New England, in films, radio, and on TV.
Actress Heather Glenn Wixson has performed Off-Broadway and for regional theatres across New England, in films, radio, and on TV. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Rarely has she felt as inspired as when she’s standing in Room 418 of the Portsmouth campus of Great Bay Community College, leading students through her Fundamentals of Acting course.
“My experience at Great Bay has been one of the most positive teaching experiences I have had in my life,” said Glenn Wixson, who has served as the Head of the Theatre Department at Commonwealth School and lead Artist-in-Residence at the Wang Center in Boston. “The students are so interested in what we are doing, so committed to what we are doing, and the results are truly quite profound. I just constantly have this feeling of, ‘Wow! Look at what is happening here in Room 418!’ It’s extraordinary.”
Glenn Wixson has taught Great Bay’s Fundamentals of Acting course since January. It is a beginning acting class, though Glenn Wixson has attracted some experienced actors. Heather considers her devised curriculum to be like an acting conservatory in a class. She introduces students to some of the physical work involved with actor training, as well as vocal work, and script analysis related to scene study. She teaches an acting method known as Practical Aesthetics.
She learned that method from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where she also trained with actress Stella Adler. She has studied and taught the method since.
“As an actor, you are constantly training and exploring, learning from each other and mentors. I have continued my focus on this method throughout my career, and that is what I bring into the classroom,” she said.
It is based on the practice of an actor breaking down a scene and eventually a play by analyzing what a character is doing based on the script, determining what that character wants from the other characters, and then deciding on an essential action to perform on stage “to make the character get what they want,” Glenn Wixson said.
In addition to her teaching career, Glenn Wixson is Co-Artistic Director of Threshold Stage Company, a small professional theater company in Kittery, and has performed with the Huntington Theatre, Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre, Soho Playhouse and La MaMa in New York, and many other theater companies. Her on-camera and radio credits include work with HBO, NPR, and numerous commercials.
She stars as Annie Wilkes in Threshold Stage Company’s upcoming production of “Misery,” written by William Goldman and based on the novel by Stephen King, Oct. 21-Nov. 6 at the Star Theatre at the Kittery Community Center.
In addition to continuing teaching the Fundamentals of Acting class, she hopes to add an advanced acting class and build toward a public performance by Great Bay-trained actors. She wants to infuse the local acting community with actors trained at Great Bay and noted that one Great Bay student auditioned for “Misery.” She also envisions a variety of internship opportunities for Great Bay students at Threshold. “And if a role comes along and there happens to be a Great Bay student who is right for it, that is always a possibility. That would be wonderful.”