other characters and storylines
Genie Chance was a radio reporter who broadcast non-stop during the aftermath of the earthquake. As people realized she was on the air, she became a conduit for people to reconnect and let distant relatives know they were okay. In the play, performer Devan Hawkins wrote several scenes based on Chance's real life; we follow her as she gets her first on-air job, through the earthquake, and as she wins awards for reporting and later becomes an Alaska state senator. One of our fascinations was with how the range of available media has considerably shifted the way natural disasters are covered. There was no live coverage of the 1964 earthquake the way that there would be today. Genie's storyline highlighted that for the audience.
Jack Hoff was created by performer Andrew Miller to explore the dark underbelly of earthquake recovery: swindlers. Though Hoff was selling bogus insurance policies prior to the earthquake, the consequences of those purchases will likely be devastating to homeowners who were relying upon his fraudulent company to assist them with reconstruction. He's not all bad, however. He did assist Carin with finding a place to shelter after her house was destroyed, and he felt sufficient guilt over taking money from June that he returned it before he fled Alaska.
Michael was based on performer Joshuah Rutten's idea that someone needed to stand for and represent those who died. As a dead character who walks through the world assisting those who've just lost their lives, he is able to see and reflect on things that other characters cannot. At the end of the play, he led a memorial of sorts to the 139 victims.
Joe Pyne and the sitcom characters are the remains of our explorations around the history of the United States in the 1950s and '60s. Pyne was the original Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity: conservative, aggressive, and actively provocative toward his guests. We wanted to better understand where the earthquake fell in the better-known timeline of American history: what was happening politically and culturally before and after the event? We also sought out information about earthquake science, and had a visit from Janelle Sikorski from the Department of Geological Sciences who explained plate tectonics and answered a ton of questions we had about what happened geologically in 1964. The Obligatory Scientist character emerged from this research.