University Theatre brings gripping docudrama ‘Wilderness’ to the stage

A woman stands on a red rock overlooking a canyon as the sun sets.

Fresno State’s University Theatre presents the Fresno premiere of “Wilderness,” written by Seth Bockley and Anne Hamburger, directed by Kathleen McKinley. 

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3-4 and Dec. 7-11, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5 at the John Wright Theatre at Fresno State. Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for Fresno State faculty, staff, alumni and military and $10 for all students. The production is intended only for mature audiences. Children under 12 are not permitted.

“Wilderness is a pulsating documentary theatre piece that speaks to our collective search for connection and hope as families survive the extraordinary pressures and complexities that accompany coming of age in 21st-century America. It is anchored by six real families’ stories—narratives exploring mental health, addiction, and gender and sexual identity. 

In “Wilderness, adolescents stand at the brink of emotional chaos, lost in social stigma, insecurity, aggression, and anger. Parents risk losing their children forever. Thoughts race. Emotions fire. Isolation intensifies. One question emerges: How do we persevere when we feel most alone in the world?

The production incorporates projected video, live vocals, and original choreography by Fresno State faculty member Koryn Wicks. 

“I think theatre can be an incredibly effective medium for exploring trauma and mental health,” says cast member Anthony teNyenhuis. “This whole experience offers a lot of catharsis and insight for both the actors and audience members. It delivers a powerfully important message- especially for a world changed by the mental burdens of COVID; it’s okay to not be okay.”

The cast includes Hannah Berry, Diego Barba, Santiago Batista, Alyssa Benitez, Cynthia Carranza, Alexis Castellanos, Jimmy Haynie, Grant Hill, Aleiya Kelly, Cassidy LeClair, Kara Nist, Luke Nothstein, Anthony teNyenhuis, and Matthew Yang.

Until further notice, proof of complete COVID vaccination or a negative result from a COVID test performed within 72 hours of the performance day is required to be admitted. The Department of Theatre and Dance will also require audience members to be fully masked while inside the theatre. Doors open 30 minutes before curtain. Latecomers will not be permitted, and there are no refunds or exchanges. The box office is open from noon to 4 p.m. on weekdays and one hour before each performance, and it accepts cash, check, or credit card payments.

Parking is free for shows on Friday through Sunday night. Parking permits are required for shows on Tuesday through Thursday night and can be purchased at dispensers in parking lots on campus.

For more information, contact the box office at 559.278.2216 or universitytheatre@csufresno.edu.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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