On the first day rehearsing David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2011 play, Good People, at the Marin Theatre Company through Sept. 15, members of the cast and the creative team discussed their ideas about South Boston, where the award-winning play is set. Talking about where they might have gotten those ideas, they came up with some movies that depict the neighborhood such as The Departed and Gone Baby Gone. But Good Will Hunting, starring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams, and Minnie Driver, seemed to have the most in common with Good People.
“Tonally, we felt that Good Will Hunting was more in line with the themes of the play: what it's like for the working class in America, the stark differences between the classes as exemplified in Boston's grittier neighborhoods and the tony Ivy League schools, and how important the community you surround yourself with can be as you journey through life,” wrote Margot Melcon in an email.
Melcon, the director of New Play Development for the Marin Theatre Company, will talk about these themes at a special screening of the Oscar-winning 1997 movie on Sept. 10 at 7:30 at the Lark Theater in Larkspur.
Melcon feels the connections between the Gus Van Sant movie and the play about a middle- aged single mother who goes to an old boyfriend, now a doctor, hoping he can help her find work, go beyond being set in the same neighborhood.
With the recent trial and conviction of James “Whitey” Bulger from South Boston for murder, extortion and money laundering, many people may think of the criminal activity and when they think of the area – but there’s more to it than that, Melcon says.
“It is a place with a deep working class tradition filled with real, loyal, family- and neighborhood-oriented people,” she said. “The characters in both Good People and Good Will Hunting are great examples of honest, hard-working people dealing with everyday struggles and trying to make good decisions in their lives.”
As you might guess from the title, the question of what it means to be a good person– and how circumstances and luck affect that – come up in the funny, moving play. The characters in Good Will Hunting also struggle with that question, Melcon thinks.
“They are absolutely concerned with what it means to be a good person,” she said. “To make decisions that are of benefit to the people around them and not just behave selfishly or solely out of self-interest.”