UNCW Theatre Faculty Balance Teaching with Stage and Screen

Monday, June 26, 2017

Most people can only experience historical moments through reading books or watching movies. However, when they aren’t teaching, UNCW theatre faculty Nick Basta and Ed Wagenseller don period clothing and step directly into these worlds.

Basta moved to Wilmington from New York City to settle down with his family and take advantage of the film community. Basta taught first at Cape Fear Community College and Coastal Carolina Community College before settling in at UNCW six years ago to teach a range of classes, from introduction to theatre to advanced acting. Currently, Basta is an online lecturer, leaving him ample time to work on projects like “Blacklist: Redemption,” a spinoff of the popular FBI drama, and “TURN: Washington’s Spies.”

“I find UNCW’s theatre program ranks at the top of any I’ve seen for a bachelor’s degree,” said Basta. “The faculty is truly talented. I want to be an asset for those who are young actors. I’m available to any undergrad who has an interest in acting, and I love having a home here at UNCW.”

Ed Wagenseller, assistant professor of theatre, recently completed two projects he had to balance with a rigorous teaching schedule. He has had ample time to grow as both actor and educator, working for UNCW as a lecturer for 14 years and then as an assistant professor for the past three. After many years of driving across the country for every audition he could snag, Wagenseller has found a rhythm to his role at UNCW, hoping his experiences will inform and inspire future actors.

“Every mistake I make out in the real world, I bring it into the classroom, whether it’s a costume choice or an acting choice or saying something I shouldn’t have in an audition,” he said. “I’m out there working every day in the profession. I have the benefit of bringing that into a classroom and sharing what I took away from it.”

Wagenseller recently appeared on PBS’ Civil War drama “Mercy Street” and a hilarious commercial for the North Carolina Education Lottery, a slot he shared with former UNCW student Anthony Police ’10.

“What was really interesting is I had no fewer than seven students of mine at the callback for that commercial,” said Wagenseller. “It was so cool. It was like a reunion from UNCW. Our students are really out there working.”

-- Caitlin Taylor ’18M


Nick Basta

Nick Basta (right) and a fellow actor.


Ed Wagenseller (right) and a fellow actor.