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In 2017, Halifax came upon the 100-year anniversary of the Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917. This event shaped Halifax and it’s people, after a massive explosion in the harbour left thousands dead, many more injured, and completely devastated the infrastructure of the city. Wanting to honour the centenary, our research led us to the brilliant Ami McKay – an internationally celebrated Nova Scotian author (The Birth House, The Virgin Cure, The Witches of New York).

Ami’s work and research has highlighted one of the most astonishing but little-known facts about the Halifax explosion – that nearly every pregnant woman within a 6-km radius of the blast was jolted into spontaneous labour, regardless of gestation. When news of the explosion came across the wire, midwives and nurses from across Nova Scotia (and the rest of Atlantic Canada/Eastern Seaboard, USA) knew what this would mean for mothers-to-be, and boarded trains to make their way to Halifax to care for the tiniest victims of the explosion and the women who carried them. The Hours Turn to Nothing tells the stories of both the women who came to the rescue, and the women who needed them.

The show reflects the moments before, during, and after the Halifax Explosion although it is not linear in nature. It flickers back and forth between moments in time, capturing the chaos, shock, and determination of that day for the women who experienced it. Newspaper headlines ground the audience in the moment to moment action of the narrative, with music and soundscapes echoing the emotional journey of the women who lived through this tragedy.


“The effect of the minimal choreography, music, and bits of text woven together is that they harrowing story bubbles to the surface with a serene delicacy that is not the norm for tales of disaster and survival.” -Michael Lake


“With this event, [Xara] has continued to find new ways to push forward its mandate of shows centered on communities of women, and to bring its audience into history.” -Adam Fiske



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