60s and early 70s counterculture art existed to communicate dissatisfaction with what counterculturalists perceived as a constrained, unjust, violent, and divisive government as well as prudent, uncreative, and all-too-safe mainstream media and art. Hence their emphasis on peace and love in their philosophy, contrasted with their encouragement of liberated and accepted sexuality, drug positivity, and radical experimentation with form and structure.
But even before then, in 19th century Paris counterculturalists existed and influenced their society, known as Bohemians. They met in cafes and discussed their distaste towards the bourgeois, their society’s strict moral codes, and the mainstream. They, too, experimented with drugs and psychedelics.
And even before that period, a period of counterculturalist thought that still influences much of our modern society was Romanticism, which opposed rationalism, Enlightenment thinking, and Classicism. The reach of that particular movement extended itself fluidly between sciences and the arts unlike the aforementioned.
The common thread amongst all of them, is that they sought to be antithetical to a mainstream through that dominated the social and creative landscape. They sought to provide an alternative philosophy and perception, an alternative mode of thinking that can lends itself to alternative narratives entering the social consciousnesses.
Of course, a common thread of their existence is that should these movements gain enough of a following, they’ll become appropriate enough by the mainstream that their existence comes to an end.
The common thread amongst all of their existences, is that they sought to be antithetical to a mainstream through that dominated the social and creative landscape. They sought to provide an alternative philosophy and perception, an alternative mode of thinking that can lend itself to alternative narratives entering the social consciousnesses. And certainly the 60s counterculture movement, more than the Romanticism and Bohemian movements, bled into politics. Anti-war sentiments, racial equality movements, and feminist movements lead our contemporary mainstream to give those counterculturalist - some of who identified as anarchists - the politicized label of “liberal”, under our modern definition of it.
Regardless, in order for a counterculture to exist, there must be a defined mainstream, thus:
We identify as contemporary counterculturalist theatre artists. Though we reject any modern-defined label of “liberal” or “conservative”. We believe the contemporary mainstream - particularly in the modern world of arts and entertainment - to be defined as a mainstream society that:
perpetuates and supports what is colloquially known as "Cancel Culture"
that encourages a dominant societal and governmental politicization
has a performative, inauthentic, and hypocritical moral compass
lacks a capacity for multiple truths to coexist
exhibits a lack of regard for nuanced national discussion on complex topics
is unable to engage in a social dialogue amicably and empathetically
fails to engage and invest in philosophy and the lessons, questions, and truths brought to the forefront by works of art (and the contexts of their creation)
And thus we reject those notions and definitions that reflect mainstream culture from our perspective.
The Jones Classical Theatre Company is the first and proud member theater in the League of Independent Theaters, a collective of non-union artist-led counterculturalist theatre companies. It is an alternative to the League of Resident Theaters for theater companies and the world of Equity for performers and stage managers. Its purpose is to (1) support non-union theatre artists, theatre educators, and early career theatre artists, (2) promote and provide resources to start-up to large size non-union theaters, and (3) abide by the contemporary counterculturalist values and philosophy as defined in this writing.
The Jones Classical Theatre Company does not believe:
That all theatre is political inherently or by nature
Union status is what marks a professional theatre artists
Theatre educators are not theatre professionals
Censorship of any kind should be encouraged
Audiences should not be challenged
The Jones Classical Theatre Company supports and encourages:
The nature and creation of non-partisan theatre
The sustainable, community-centered and ecologically ethical production of theatre and operation of a theater
Theatre focused on text and performances, with little regard for majestic production values, or spectacle. We encourage theatre with stock production aesthetics, engaging with site-specific venues, found spaces, or partnering with schools, churches, or community spaces/theaters. Such an approach allows for budgeting to reflect the prioritization of compensating the artist more than securing things, in the literal sense.
The open, empathetic, honest, respectful discussion of sensitive topics, ideas, and themes presented by the work of our industry, nation we live in, and shared the conscious and conscience of both our society and industry.
Artists and audiences of all political beliefs to engage with the theatre
The investment, promotion, and support in and of theatre/performing arts and theatre/performing artists outside of New York City and Los Angeles
The casting, hiring, and support of theatre artists outside of New York City and Los Angeles, particularly in the Midwest and Southeast
Cross racial text assignment in conservatory/intensive actor training
The reading and watching of plays
The performance, education, analysis, and investigation of classical texts
The idea that actors are artists; we believe directors provide a canvas they’ve shaped and the actors and designers paint the inside under the given frame
The preservation of classical texts. We believe in cutting chunks of texts for the sake of having a reasonable runtime. We also believe in engaging with difficult or controversial parts of the text creatively; texts are products of their time and we don’t believe that is to be ashamed of or shied away from. We believe it is through the text and the performative interpretation of that text that modern commentary is best communicated and displayed.
The challenging and regard of/for audiences. We do not wish to pander to audiences or any dominant social politic. We believe classical texts most diversely, beautifully, honestly, and profoundly examine and reflect the human condition, in both its positive and negative aspects. As we seek to utilize theatre to change and affect our audiences, we believe we have an artistically moral obligation to present these texts honestly, to the best of our ability. Therefore, we take great pride in our performances being clear and understandable, as a baseline standard of our theatre and performance philosophy. We also take pride in not appealing to any particular political ideology, but rather, we’re proud to appeal to any person who may be able to relate to many of the themes and philosophies that may be present in any work we do.
The idea that the beauty of theatre is when strangers enter a space together to take in a story that can affect in similar ways for diverse reasons. We believe that the very act of being present together and the very shared nature of being human is all that matters when it comes to an audience.
LOIT Statement: The League of Independent Theaters actively works against and dissuades others from engaging in culture intolerant to nuance and forgiveness. We are a collective of theaters and theatre artists who are committed to telling stories about the difficulties and contradictions of being human. Many of these stories encourage forgiveness and redemption, two themes and qualities that we profoundly encourage, investigate, and discuss.