Leyla McCalla
Leyla McCalla
Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever


Breaking the Thermometer
to Hide the Fever

Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever is a multidisciplinary performance set to new music by Haitian-American singer-songwriter Leyla McCalla. The project explores the legacy of Radio Haiti-Inter, Haiti’s first privately owned Creole-speaking radio station, and the assassination of its owner, Jean Dominique, in 2000. The title is derived from a proverb used by Dominique to describe the spirit of Haiti’s marginalized poor in the face of violence and political oppression.

Directed by Kiyoko McCrae, Breaking the Thermometer combines storytelling, dance, video projection, and audio recordings from the Radio Haiti Archive housed at Duke University and is anchored by McCalla’s original compositions and arrangements of traditional Haitian songs. We see Haiti through Leyla’s eyes as she grapples with the harsh political realities of its people and the journalists, like Dominique, who fought to uplift their voices.

Duke Performances is lead commissioner of Breaking the Thermometer. The project will premiere in Durham, NC in March 2020 and is currently seeking commissioning and presenting partners. The work is available for touring nationally and internationally in Spring 2020 and beyond.

The Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans is hosting a series of production residencies for the project from 2018 to 2020.