Make no mistake -- you'll never see a production of Les Miserables from Shawn LaCount. There will be no mainstream musical, no Shakespeare classic, no blue men with marshmallow-stuffed mouths. That's not his thing. What you can count on are actors you've never heard of before and plays you've never enjoyed before...but sure as hell will.
Shawn is the artistic director of Company One, a resident theater company at the Boston Center for the Arts. He's one of six Clark University graduates who created the independent nonprofit to produce the most cutting-edge, artistically provocative plays, dances, and entertainments this city has ever seen. The main goal? To unite Boston's unspoken social divides into a single audience entertained by art and inspired for social change. Each production taps into the area's diverse well of artists, who are committed to civic reform — in with music and drama, out with prejudice and classism. With 13 seasons under its belt, Company One boasts seven Elliot Norton Awards, among other accolades, 50 theatrical productions, and 10,000 students who have graduated from its education outreach programs. This year for the IRNE awards, every C1 production was recognized: Green Eyes (performed in a third-floor hotel room at the Ames), Love Person, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, No Room for Wishing, and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Big applause.
The stage may seem a long way from the Brookline homeless shelter that Shawn's parents ran when he was a kid, but he doesn't see it that way. In fact, he sees his life's mission as directly connected. Shawn learned early on that the homeless kids he played with weren't much different from him. Their moms and dads, though, they weren't always like Shawn's; there were fathers who left behind bags of cocaine, mothers who abandoned their babies. What Shawn learned was that every walk of life is within inches of all of us — with dreams and talents, heartbreaks and stories. They were voices that most people would never hear.
Next Wednesday, April 3rd, marks the 14th Company One Gala. It is the signature fundraiser that keeps Company One alive and thriving. This year, DJ Sham, sexy sword-wielding she-nerds, B-boy Jet Liem & the Del Fuego Wolf Pack, and Sean Fielder & the Boston Tap Company lead the night, which takes place at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter — a shelter for rich and diverse artistic talents, with many, many voices.