Can A New Haven Play Confront Questions About Race And Class In 'Good Faith'? | Connecticut Public Radio
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Can A New Haven Play Confront Questions About Race And Class In 'Good Faith'?

Feb 15, 2019

Whose responsibility is it to confront institutional racism in our country today?

Good Faith: Four Chats About Race and the New Haven Fire Department is playing at Yale Reparatory Theatre this month. It revisits New Haven after a group of firefighters sued the city. The reverse discrimination lawsuit, Ricci v. DeStefano, was decided by the U.S Supreme Court.

We’ll hear from two of the real people depicted in the play, Frank Ricci and Michael Briscoe. And we talk with playwright, Karen Hartman about why she took on this project. 

Have you seen Good Faith?

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GUESTS:

  • Emily Bazelon - Staff writer for New York Times Magazine and a lecturer at Yale Law School. She wrote about the Ricci v. DeStefano case for Slate in 2009 (@emilybazelon)
  • Karen Hartman - Playwright who wrote Good Faith: Four Chats About Race and the New Haven Fire Department (@itskarenhartman)
  • Frank Ricci - Lead plaintiff in Supreme Court Case Ricci v. DeStefano; he is also a Battalion Chief for City of New Haven Fire Dept and President of Fire Union Local 825. He writes for Fire Engineering Magazine and The Daily Caller (@NHFDRicci)
  • Michael Briscoe - Retired New Haven firefighter and former Director of Public Safety Communications for the City of New Haven

READING LIST:

Slate: The Ladder (5-Part series on the Ricci v. DeStefano case, Emily Bazelon, 2009) - "Frank Ricci is part of a group of 20 firefighters—19 of them white and one Hispanic—who are challenging in court New Haven's decision to throw out the results of a 2003 exam for 15 captain and lieutenant promotions. The test results would have given 13 of the promotions to white candidates, perhaps two to Hispanics, and none to African-Americans; because of that racial imbalance, the city withdrew the test. The Ricci plaintiffs said that amounted to denying them the promotions because they are white."

New York Times: Will a New Play Restart a Fire? (January 2019) – “Frank Ricci, a veteran firefighter, was apprehensive when he heard that Yale Repertory Theater was planning a play based on the lawsuit that bore his name — a legal case bitterly fought all the way to the Supreme Court. ‘But I figured it would be in my best interest to participate,” he said recently, “so at least part of our story could be told.’”

New Haven Independent: Ricci: Who’s That “Frank” Guy Onstage? (February 2019) – “Ricci is a main character in the play, which focuses on a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court Case decision (in a case entitled Ricci v. DeStefano) that changed the rules for when government can toss out the results of promotional exams based on how blacks and Hispanics scored on them. Ricci said he didn’t recognize the character named Frank, played by actor Ian Bedford, as himself. Even if  ‘90 percent’ of his scripted lines rang true.”

Chion Wolf contributed to this show.