Hour by Hour – The Seeds of Xara’s Newest Show

The hours turn to nothing Xara

by Claire Leger, Choreographer

“I can’t believe we weren’t friends before!!”

This was the excited exclamation from Ami McKay after our first creative meeting for what would become “The Hours Turn to Nothing”, Xara’s newest choral theatre project. Christina and I had been brainstorming different ideas for a show that would connect to the centenary of the Halifax Explosion. As Xara’s shows are often very female-centric, we started hunting for stories about women who lived or worked through the Explosion. Very quickly, we stumbled upon Ami McKay’s website, and a blog post she had written about midwives during the Explosion. We were already big fans of Ami and her first book “The Birth House,” where in Chapter 26, the female protagonist goes to Halifax to provide midwifery help to women in the aftermath.

We were shocked to discover from Ami’s blog that the impact of the blast caused many pregnant women in the surrounding area to go into spontaneous labour. We wondered what had happened to those women, those children, and the tireless people who must have worked hours on end to try and save them. And from there, the seeds of The Hours Turn to Nothing started to grow.

Our first creative meeting was actually a Skype phone call between Christina and I in Halifax and Ami in Scot’s Bay. As we chatted about the women whose stories had been long forgotten, and the music that could bring those stories to life, we got more and more excited. Ami also has a background in music history, theory, and musicology, another surprise for us to discover. That’s when we knew – we were destined to create a show together!

 From those initial seeds has grown a work that we are so honoured to bring to life this spring. Featuring beautiful music, including a brand new commission from Xara’s own Jenny Trites and text derived from historical records and images, it is both powerful and hopeful. Stay tuned to our blog over the next few months for inside info on the show as it develops, straight from our singers, collaborators, and from Ami herself!