Halifax’s internationally acclaimed 2b theatre company is entering a period of major change. The company will begin a time of healthy dismantling that makes room for us to imaginatively rebuild. Driven by personal desires and a commitment to creating new opportunities for staffing, three of our core members have announced intentions to depart from the company over the coming several months: founding Artistic Co-Director Anthony Black, Managing Producer Karen Gross, and Managing Director Colleen MacIsaac. These decisions were finalized recently, catalysed by the pause in the performing arts due to the COVID-19 pandemic and support for the Black Lives Matter movement, but come after many months of heartfelt consideration. The departing staff are united with the board and the remaining team in their support of 2b and its future. Anthony, Colleen, and Karen will continue to work with the company in consulting roles, as appropriate, particularly during the transition.
Over the past 20 years, artistic partners Anthony Black and Christian Barry have led the organisation, growing it from a fledgling student start-up into a key cultural institution in Halifax and an internationally respected leader at the vanguard of new theatre creation. 2b’s work has been presented in 61 cities, in 13 countries, on five continents, and in three languages. 2b’s productions have won awards and accolades around the world, including an Edinburgh Fringe First, two Herald Angel Awards, the Lieutenant Governor’s Masterworks award, six Drama Desk Award nominations, and a New York Times Critics pick.
Founding Artistic Co-Director Christian Barry will become the sole Artistic Director and shepherd the company through the revisioning process. 2b will make use of the temporary shut down of the performing arts due to the COVID-19 pandemic to transition to a new team and vision for the company. Going forward, 2b will continue to tour existing repertoire (when conditions permit), create original work at home in Halifax, and bring that work to the world.
Statement from Christian Barry, Artistic Co-Director
This is a time of great change in the world. But the change isn’t happening quickly enough. For some time now, we have all been thinking about how to manifest the change we want to see in the world. Those departing are doing so for a confluence of individual reasons. As an organization we have embraced this moment for evolution at 2b. We all want the company to be a part of a metamorphosis that sees our community become more compassionate, equitable, and just.
Some of us are changing our profession to manifest change, some of us are taking a pause to listen, some of us are opening up a space at the table. We are all taking steps forward, seeking a better, more caring world.
One of the things I am most proud of at 2b is the company’s recently articulated value of prioritizing care over ambition. 2b has historically strived for excellence at all costs, sometimes overworking and depleting ourselves and our teams. Our people are our greatest resource, and going forward, 2b will lead with care.
Anthony Black has been my collaborator and partner for 20 years. His contributions to the company and to the community of Halifax are immense. He is irreplaceable, and I’m proud of what we’ve built together. Although he won’t be in the rehearsal rooms or the 2b office, his contributions and his impact will be with us in all we do.
The company will begin re-shaping our staffing model, with preliminary hiring by early Fall, and will be restructuring our artistic direction and vision by January 2021. I am deeply thankful to our outgoing staff – they have made incredible contributions to this organization and this community, and they are some of my best friends – I will miss working with them everyday. Thankfully, they will all continue to be a resource for 2b, and they will all support 2b throughout this transition. We have key changes that we want to make, but we are building on great foundations and working with some of the very best people.
Statement from Catherine Woodman, Chair of 2b’s Board of Directors
This year marks an incredible 20 years in the history of 2b. During those twenty years, the company has grown into one of the most active and respected touring theatre companies in the country. After two decades, we embark on a time of great change.
We are grateful for the contribution of Anthony, Colleen, and Karen and we wish them all the best.
The 2b Board of Directors is a dedicated group of passionate community members who are steadfast in our support of 2b’s mission and its people. We are looking forward to contributing to this exciting and key phase of revisioning.
2020 has seen unprecedented challenge and disruption caused by a global pandemic, as well as calls to eradicate systemic racism in our societal constructs. We will ensure that 2b continues to be a positive part of the changes that are required.
Statement from Anthony Black, Artistic Co-Director
I have been contemplating a shift away from 2b for several months. For the past 20 years, this company has been central to my life. After two decades, I’m ready for a change. Many factors have contributed to my coming to this decision now. The global pandemic has given me time to stop and think. Meanwhile the uncertainty about when and how theatre will resume has made me feel that, if I’m going to make a change, this is a good moment. I’m not sure what is next for me and I will be taking some time to figure that out. I am lucky to have gotten to spend two decades collaborating with my best friend and creative partner, Christian, and to have gotten to know and work alongside some incredible people, in particular Colleen and Karen, whose talents and hearts will be missed.
We all agree that this is an opportunity for creative renewal. The pause to the performing arts sector provides 2b with a perfect moment to look at and rebuild its foundations and to bring in fresh voices and new perspectives.
I’m eternally thankful to the artists, administrators, technicians, consultants, presenters, agents, board members, and audiences that have been part of my journey at 2b.
Statement from Karen Gross, Managing Producer
I feel enormously grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and the people I’ve met at 2b. I have found this job fulfilling, fascinating, and challenging. Working in proximity to art has been a profound gift. I am planning to move in a new direction professionally. I have been personally preparing for this transition over the past several months.
I love theatre because it allows us to imagine possible worlds and it offers us space to meaningfully be together. In these ways I see the pursuit of justice and care as essential to theatre making.
I am inspired by the art 2b makes and by the organizational values we gradually built as a team, which now centre around care. To move from committing to these values on paper to living them out is the real work. I have faith that this organization is capable of that. I plan to stay engaged with the company’s activities and support them by holding them accountable. I ask you, the community, to do the same.
This could be a transformative moment for 2b. There is also risk. There is always risk in the moment of taking a leap.
Statement from Colleen MacIsaac, Managing Director
Working at 2b has been an absolutely life-changing experience for me. I will always be truly grateful for the amount of trust that the organization has placed in me, for the people I have had the extraordinary good fortune to work with, and for the incredible experiences that I have had while employed by this company.
Recently, I had a realization that for the overwhelming whiteness of theatre leadership in our region to shift, people need to step aside to make space, and drastic, transformative changes need to happen. It is hard work, but I believe it is essential work. During these slower months I have also been taking a look at the directions I want to move in personally, and am going to be taking more time to deepen my own artistic practice and investigate life at a different pace.
These are transformative times. I am heartened by 2b’s shift towards care as a central value, and I trust the team who will be carrying the company forward. I am optimistic that this is not only going to be a very positive step for me personally, but for the organization as a whole.