Thursday, June 30, 2022
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Wilderness at Meridith-Dunbar October 3-4-5-6

Because of construction in the fine arts section, Temple High School's first theatre production of the school year will be performed at Meridith-Dunbar Auditorium, 1717 E Avenue J, Temple, TX 76501. Performances are Thursday-Saturday, October 3-4-5 at 8 p.m. with a Sunday matinee on October 6 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. The play contains adult language. Advance tickets are available from students and also online at There are also plans to be able to offer credit card sales at the door.

     A moving multimedia documentary theatre piece, Wilderness 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.
     The play is anchored by six real families’ stories — narratives that involve issues of mental health, addiction, and gender and sexual identity, inspired by firsthand interviews and field research conducted over an 18-month period. The six teens stand at the brink of emotional chaos, lost in social stigma, insecurity, aggression and anger. Anguished grown-ups and troubled children all search for answers to complicated problems.
     Cole (Matthew Harris) has anger issues and experiments with drugs, once climbing an 80-foot crane while high. Chloe (Kerryn Eckenrode) took to self-harm as an escape from online bullying. Dylan (Anna Gontscharow) is transgender, and began lying pathologically as a way of coping with the trauma of coming out. Michael (Cameron Hooper) is dealing with issues of anger and violence. Sophia (Torrie Culp) deals with severe anxiety and suffers from panic attacks. Elizabeth (Genevieve Myers) is a young woman who deals with her anger management issues through recreational drugs.
     A character simply called Mom (Olivia Cabrera) offers a parental perspective. Her son has barricaded himself in his room and won’t communicate. She makes a series of frantic phone calls, seeking help first from emergency services, then from the wilderness program. Between calls, she interviews parents of teens who are played by Temple school administrators and faculty members.
     The teens relate their stories in fragments, as they hike, set up camp, attend therapy sessions and argue with their counselors. The program is demanding, beginning when the teens are “gooned”: kidnapped with their parents’ permission, then flown to a remote part of Utah, where they sleep on the ground and traipse through the backcountry with gear on their shoulders. Such stark challenges bring underlying emotional struggles to the forefront.

UPDATE: CLICK HERE for a YouTube video produced by Wildcat Films about the show.

Full cast and production staff members are listed on the WILDERNESS Information Page.


Thespian Troupe #1966
Temple High School
Theatre Arts Department
415 South 31st Street
Temple, TX 76504

Natasha Tolleson
Office 254-215-7278

Theatre Instructor,
Lights & Sound
Kayla Stewart

YouTube (thespiansrus)

30 Years

Temple's UIL One-Act Play Team has been a District Champion for 30 years in a row (as of March 2022). No other UIL team at Temple High holds such a record.

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Temple High Thespians

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2020-2021 Highlights

Texas Thespians:
18 Students Advance to
International Competition

State Champion:
Thespian Team Tech Design

Three Films Advance in
UIL Film Contest

Five State Qualifiers
in UIL Theatrical Design;
Group Wins Bronze Medal

District Speech: 10 of 15
Advancers were from Temple,
Two District Team Champs

UIL One-Act Play Student Body
Advances to State Meet
(5th Time in the last 6 Meets)
Final 8 out of 249 schools

State 2nd Runner-Up, UIL
Theatre Team Champions

2019-2020 Highlights

Texas Thespian Convention
Six Events Advance to
International Competition

Named a Texas Thespian
Outstanding Troupe (1 of 6)

Named Texas Thespian
All-Star Troupe (1 of 23)

Second Place in Texas
Team Mask Making

Performed Marathon Play
Wilderness for 500 people

UIL One-Act Play Mac Beth
District Champion. Contests
after district were cancelled

2018-2019 Highlights

Mrs. Tolleson Named a
TETA Educator of the Year

Texas Thespian Convention
All 8 Events Advance to
International Competition

Team Mask Making

Team Set Design

Nominee, Texas Thespian
Troupe of the Year (1 of 6)

5th Place
Baby with the Bathwater

Texas UIL 6A State Finals
One-Act Play Competition
(Out of 254 schools)

5th Place in Texas, Div. 2
UIL Dramatic Design Group

2017-2018 Highlights

Texas Thespian Convention
All 10 Events Advance to
International Competition
(More than any other troupe)

Texas Thespian Performance
of Wonder of the World

Texas Thespian All-Star
Troupe (1 of 10 in Texas)

Nominee, Texas Thespian
Troupe of the Year (1 of 3)

4th Place On the Verge
Texas UIL 5A State Finals
One-Act Play Competition
(Out of over 250 schools)