Now that Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (HVNP) has reopened, Kilauea Drama & Entertainment Network (KDEN) will resume its living history program “A Walk into the Past,” on Tuesday at 10 a.m. This program features a living history presenter, dressed in period costume, brings back to life Thomas A. Jaggar, founder of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and a prominent figure in the history of volcanology, the study of volcanoes. Ka‘u actor-director Dick Hershberger portrays Jaggar.
Hershberger’s extensive experience on the many theatrical stages of the Big Island has finally brought him to a new venue in HVNP. He has performed with Aloha Performing Arts Company, Waimea Community Theater, The Palace and University of Hawaii at Hilo and Kilauea Drama & Entertainment Network.
The program itself takes place in the Whitney Vault, a 16-by-12-foot underground laboratory that still has original seismograph equipment, and is located under a mound in front of the Volcano House. The time is April 1912, when travel was by ship, train, horse and carriage. There were only four airplanes in America. Teddy Roosevelt was running for president and the Red Sox won the World Series.
Jaggar moved to Hawaii from his offices at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was the head of the Geology Department, in order to study firsthand the activity of Kilauea and Mauna Loa, thereby gaining valuable knowledge about the inner workings of earth systems. He founded the first geologic observatory dedicated to saving lives. He co-founded the park itself. It was Jaggar’s vision that inspired the idea of predicting geologic hazards worldwide.
Performances of “A Walk into the Past” will be every other Tuesday, at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., starting Oct. 29. Meet at the Kilauea Visitor Center. There is no charge for the performance, but park entrance fees do apply.