Skip to content

BC Student Working with Southie Single Moms Brings Them to Meet Broadway Counterpart

Participants from the Career Family Opportunity Project in South Boston pose with Frances McDormand and Tate Donovan (center), stars of "Good People," a Broadway play set in Southie. BC grad student Amanda Freeman arranged for the women to see the play.

A Boston College doctoral student working on a research project on single mothers from South Boston recently arranged for 10 of these women to see the hit Broadway play “Good People,” which is set in Southie, and meet the Oscar-winning actress who portrays a Southie single mother in the play.

Amanda Freeman, a BC graduate student pursuing a doctorate in sociology, is part of a research team led by Boston College Sociology Research Professor Lisa Dodson that is studying the Crittenton Women’s Union’s Career Family Opportunity (CFO) project. The Crittenton Women’s Union is a nonprofit social service provider and advocacy organization based in Boston that serves approximately 1,300 low-income individuals annually. Its CFO project is an innovative program providing intensive coordinated services to lower-income parents–- over a five year period -- to assist their transition from poverty to economic independence. Freeman and BC graduate student Katie Bright conduct interviews with the CFO participants, gathering detailed accounts about the effects of the program and about issues low-income single parents face as they pursue education, better jobs, and advancement of their children.

Freeman saw the play “Good People” in New York City and thought its story of a low-income single mother from South Boston would resonate with the CFO participants.

“The play confronts the common attitude that any individual can control the family and circumstances we are all born into – if we just strive hard enough.  And yes, some people, like Mike Dillon, one of the main characters, are able to move up and out. But the point the play drives home is this: for every one person like Mike who find a way out, there are hundreds of people like Margie (another character) who are working hard and living poor; who are still stuck,” said Freeman.

“The research we are conducting with CFO,” said Dodson, “is about showing the real world of ‘good people’ who seldom get noticed, which is exactly what this play is all about.”

Last month, Freeman brought 10 CFO participants to see the play. After the show, two of play’s stars, Oscar winner Frances McDormand and Tate Donovan, met backstage with Freeman and the single mothers from Southie. The Manhattan Theater Development Education Fund donated the theater tickets.

“The actors were very gracious and eager to meet people whose lives were like the ones they were portraying on stage,” said Freeman. “The women from Southie enjoyed meeting the actors too. It was an unforgettable experience!”