Leyla McCalla
Leyla McCalla
Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever




Duke Performances at Duke University is the lead commissioner of Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever. Co-commissioners include the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans and MDC Live Arts – Miami Dade College. Development residency support and space provided by the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans.

Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever is made possible, in part, with a grant from the MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; a grant from New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Baisley Powell Elebash Fund, and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; and a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council.

Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by Duke Performances at Duke University, the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, MDC Live Arts – Miami Dade College, and NPN. The Creation & Development Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Special thanks to the Human Rights and Radio Haiti archives at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University for serving as the research site and partner on Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever, and to the Forum for Scholars and Publics.

Duke Performances — the professional performing arts presenting organization at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina — is dedicated to bringing world-class performing artists, who are diverse, essential, and forward thinking, to perform at Duke and in Durham, to engage the Duke and Durham communities and beyond, and to partner with artists on the development and presentation of performance. Drawing on the resources of a leading research university and an exciting and invigorated Durham community, Duke Performances serves as a space for reflection, a laboratory for creative and critical inquiry, and a place for socially engaged performance.

Annually, Duke Performances offers a robust season of 80-100 world-class performances, making extensive use of a network of Duke and Durham venues, and presenting artists spanning classical, new music, jazz, Americana, independent rock, international music, theater, and dance.

Laurent Dubois is Professor of Romance Studies and History and the Founding Director of the Forum for Scholars & Publics at Duke University. A specialist on the History and Culture of the Caribbean, particularly Haiti, he is the author of six books. His book A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean (2004), was the winner of the Frederick Douglass Prize. His other works include Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (2004), Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France (2010), Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (2012), and The Banjo: America’s African Instrument (2016). In 2016-17 he was a fellow at the National Humanities Center, where he began work on an experimental biography of Katherine Dunham. His writings on music, sport, and history have appeared in The New YorkerThe New RepublicThe AtlanticSlateThe New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal among other publications.

The Radio Haiti Archive at Duke University is perhaps the most thorough documentation of late 20th century Haitian politics and history, including but not limited to the Duvalier regime and its aftermath; the nascent democratic movement amid military rule under the Conseil National de Gouvernement in the late 1980s; the first presidency, overthrow, return, and second presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide; the aftermath of the 1991-1994 coup years during which Haiti’s democratically-elected government was in exile; and the first presidency of René Préval.

Radio Haiti spoke out against impunity, calling for justice for victims of human rights violations and political oppression as well as victims of corruption and corporate malfeasance. With his background as an agronomist, Jean Dominique focused in particular on the political and land rights of dispossessed peasant farmers and the need for Haiti to strengthen and support national agricultural production. Radio Haiti advocated for freedom of the press and documented repression of the independent media, covered grassroots organizations and women’s rights campaigns. By reporting largely in Haitian Creole, the language that all Haitians speak and understand, Radio Haiti made media and communication truly democratic, and showed Creole could be a language of serious political and intellectual inquiry.

The Radio Haiti collection was acquired as part of the Human Rights Archive at Duke University. The project is funded through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Council on Library and Information Resources. Laura Wagner, Ph.D. is the Radio Haiti project archivist, responsible for describing the collection and making it available in English, Haitian Creole, and French.

The Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans is a multidisciplinary arts center, financially stable and professionally managed, that is dedicated to the presentation, production, and promotion of the art of our time. The CAC organizes, presents, and tours curated exhibitions, performances and programs by local, regional, national, and international artists. It demonstrates proactive local and regional leadership by educating children and adults, cultivating and growing audiences, and initiating and encouraging collaboration among diverse artists, institutions, communities, and supporters.