The commencement address at UW-Green Bay’s mid-year graduation ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 15, will be delivered by a Class of 1974 graduate whose career accomplishments in higher education, the field of psychology and world of theatre speak to the value of a versatile, well-rounded approach… and a good sense of humor.Frederick J. Heide, Ph.D., is an associate professor with the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University in San Francisco. He is an award-winning educator who has published and presented widely on psychology-related issues including behavior and cognitive therapy, the “war metaphor” in psychotherapy, and the therapeutic benefits of drama, humor and music. He has served as associate editor of the database journal PsycCritiques maintained by the American Psychological Association. His work on relaxation-induced anxiety garnered the Outstanding Research Contribution Award from the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy.
In his native Wisconsin, he is better known as Fred “Doc” Heide, the creative force behind nearly two dozen musical theatre productions including the regionally popular spoofs “Belgians in Heaven,” “Packer Fans from Outer-Space,” and “Guys & Does.”
Heide is co-founder, founding board president, artistic adviser, playwright, and performer with American Folklore Theatre. He returns every summer to AFT, the resident theatre troupe at Peninsula State Park in Door County and one of only a few professional theatres in America that exclusively develops and performs original musicals.
A graduate of Green Bay East High School, Heide enrolled at UW-Green Bay in the early 1970s. As a sophomore he joined a new university-sponsored folk-song and local history troupe called the Heritage Ensemble. Though he’d never studied theatre, as he once told an interviewer, “they wanted to do folksongs and I was the only guy in the group who owned a guitar.”
He wrote his first show for the troupe, “The People’s Song to Sing,” as a senior honors project before graduating summa cum laude. While earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology (1981) from Pennsylvania State University, Heide reserved his summers for performing.
The ensemble’s fan base grew throughout the 1980s, accompanied by improvements to the outdoor theatre and stage facilities at Peninsula Park and a name change to American Folklore Theatre in 1990. Heide and fellow mainstays including Fred Alley, Jeffrey Herbst, Lee Becker, Paul Libman and James Kaplan originated a string of new AFT productions. The region’s lumbering, fishing, farming and native history remained recurring themes, but some of the shows found humor in zealous Packers fans, the subculture of ice fishing, or local pride in the region’s Belgian heritage. Others explored themes of romance and relationships.
The company’s success launched an “indoor season,” with AFT performances staged in playhouses in Door County, at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and at venues in Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, New York, California and elsewhere. Heide has co-created several shows with Paul Sills, founding director of Chicago’s Second City Theatre. Heide will perform in “AFT’s Home for the Holidays” production Dec. 28-31 in Door County.
In June 2012, American Folklore Theatre added another honor to its long list of accolades, winning the inaugural Wisconsin Department of Tourism Award for Arts, Culture and Heritage.
Individually, Heide has been honored for his work both in theatre and the classroom. He is a recipient of teacher of the year and master teacher awards at his institution. CSPP is described as one of the nation’s largest professional psychology schools and alma mater to a sizeable share of the state of California’s licensed psychologists. He also teaches at the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Door County Summer Institute.
Heide, a resident of Berkeley, Calif., has released three musical CDs: “Lessons I Learned From the Moon,” “Peaceful Kingdom,” and “Christmas in Door County” (with Eric Lewis).