"Zoot Suit(s)"

 

Noah Farberman

Noah “Noah Farberman” Farberman is a Toronto writer and comedian. Noah has performed in Toronto Sketchfest with his duo, Bad Tattoo, and has screened his short films in festivals across Canada and the United States. Noah is one of three winners of the Yolk Literary Flash-Fried Contest and has been published by The Online Journal of Thought and Perspective and Scarborough Fair. Currently, Noah studies Creative Writing at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.

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"12 Angry Men (1959, based on the teleplay by Reginald Rose) is a movie about people who care. Or rather, people who learn to care. I tried so hard to figure out what I wanted from 'Zoot Suit(s)' —whether a chance to one-up everyone who has made the joke 'Check out my one-person performance of 12 Angry Men' or just an opportunity to provide context for all the things I laugh at when I close my eyes. (Two kids sharing a bikini to sneak into the deep end of a swimming pool; a psychic and a detective failing to prevent a murder; any visual in this story.) For too long, I thought 'Zoot Suit(s)' was a spoof, a satirical goofball romp with no need for foundation or purpose. No reason to care about the story. I was wrong, and several drafts failed because of it. Henry Fonda helped me through.

     I wrote this piece from two perspectives: a director with a funny voice, a unique perspective on the situation, and an opportunity to setup context; and a much more apathetic character, who wanted only to hear the director out and keep themselves entertained until they got what they wanted.

     Contrary to what we see in 12 Angry Men, some minds can’t be changed. Look, in the past, I’ve been stubborn and abrasive. I’ve let emotion and frustration influence how I’ve taken feedback. And I think being able to accept those things about myself has led me to where I can share this story knowing that half of the people whose opinions I value so much thought it wasn’t working. Because my mind can’t be changed. Of this story's two voices — someone emotional and manipulative who ultimately has no influence, and someone who does not care — it’s the person who doesn’t care that gets to narrate. And you can’t change my mind on that. And I don’t need to explain why."

Seven of you are being let go.

RABBLE RABBLE

Your attention. Your attention, please.

 

RABBLES SUBDUE

 

It must first be made immaculately crystal that all fault, all of it, falls upon my dutifully shameful director’s cap. My ambitious passion and unbeatable love for this cast blinded me to the unmatchable cost and feasibility and I fought, the Greek gods would have you believe I fought, I fought with the same vehemence that all of you carried to every rehearsal... but still... it needn’t be said that... the prospect of… back when I studied at… there was never going to be a feasible way of staging a nineteen-man production of twelve angry men.

RABBLE RABBLE

 

I was wrong—please.

 

RABBLE RABBLE

 

I was wrong and now you must pay for my tragic failure. Seven of you will be dismissed, and as I am certain you have surmised, the seven have been selected from those who are sharing roles.

RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE

 

one of the actors who is notably entitled in appearance most likely because of their prominently displayed badge that represents that they are the cast-selected union representative uses a loud noise possibly a free fist slammed on the table or a two-finger whistle with the nearest and most convenient two fingers but most likely a children’s shush like and the waterfall goes shhh or who holds the talking stick to command attention before asking what the director will do to make the situation fair

 

I want you to determine, all of you, fired or not and before you know for certain if it is you or the person you share a role with who will be released, I want you to determine if I shall stay as your severely humbled director. I want it to be unanimous — I need it to be. If you… it needn’t be unanimous if you feel I should leave, I mean.

 

MURMUR

 

Fairness is hard to gauge. I hope you accept this wager as closure. I will take my leave to the hall, please retrieve me when a decision has been produced.

SILENCE

SILENCE

a second actor stands this one more immediately distinguishable by their fake mustache and loosened tie they use the actor’s greatest tool their unique voice or maybe it’s their non-unique voice to ask for earnestness while the other actors consider if they truly feel wronged

the union representative gesticulates with his definitely unique voice multiple feelings of wronging or having been wronged on several fronts he lists fronts like financially respectfully and others similar but not important enough to be officially recorded before using his difficult and awkward return to a seated position as emblem for his unwaverable stance

RABBLE RABBLE AGREEMENT RABBLE RABBLE

 

fake mustache loose tie does what looks like thinking before they respond they want to know if everyone else truly believes that the director’s actions in firing outweigh that same director’s actions leading up to the firings they also slam their fist onto the table for emphasis

 

CONFUSED RABBLE

 

with the goal of telling a moving story a third player takes a tony moment to tell the room about how the director helped them overcome a stutter by the second week of rehearsal it came across as a moving story

 

CLAP CLAP CLAP

 

the union rep now more certainly accurately labeled a jerk possibly accurately calls the story circumstantial

 

RABBLE RABBLE

 

the unofficial group leader suggests looking around and acknowledging that including themself and the stutterer that makes two of the nineteen actors and only seventeen more minds need to be changed in order for things to continue as they were with that very same director

 

the union rep repeats the loosened tie actor’s request for the others to look around in order to remind them that seven of the nineteen actors are still getting fired

 

the youngest-looking member of the cast stands to gain attention and uses the attention to remind the room that another mistake the director made was hiring an actor too young for the role which implies that they are talking about themself and that that mistake saved someone’s life which implies that the youngest-looking actor was at risk of death until they landed the role and they continue to stand to demonstrate their solidarity for the director despite the fact that careers are still on the line

 

slowly eight other actors stand with the dismayed director until only the union rep who is revealed to be sharing a single modified suit with seven other actors is left sitting

 

SILENCE

 

SILENCE

 

SILENCE

 

the stutterer bursts out a claim that the room isn’t yet unanimous which implies that the conversation isn’t yet over the outburst is not effective

 

for a beat it looks like the fake mustache and loose tie unofficial group leader can truly see the unwaverable mind of the union rep fake mustache loose tie demonstrates that they understand the mind by standing and leaving the room to retrieve the director

 

I’d like to thank all of you who still supported me despite these unavoidable circumstances. A producer will be sending emails shortly with a revised cast list... and an update on who your new director will be. Before I leave I…one last note…when I studied at…in all my years of directing I have found the easiest method to explain my vision was through a story. On my seventh birthday—

the union rep and the seven other actors sharing the wide suit slam their fist(s) on the table and explain that they will never change their mind(s) and they directly state that no parable could have an effect on their unwaverable mind(s) which directly implies that the director would be better off stopping and saving definitely wasteable breath 

 

The moral of the story is that some minds can’t be changed. Thank you for your honourable work, all of you. I look forward to seeing you opening night, most of you. I will be in the front row.

CLAP

 

CLAP CLAP

 

CLAP CLAP CLAP

 

APPLAUSE

 

big dramatic moment alert they leave the room all except the holdouts the actors leave the room as an immaculately clear sign that they will forfeit their role earnestly spartacusly poetically they honour their fallen captain they quit

 

when all the other actors leave the room the union rep and the seven actors they share a suit with loudly explain to the director alone that they plan on fulfilling their contract with the production and staying with the show despite being the only remaining actor(s) and only knowing one role collectively

 

Of course you can do an eight man performance of One Angry Man. It’s not like I can stop you. Just know that it’s already been done to death, you hack sonofabitch(es), but hey, that’s theatre. I will not be at that show, instead I will be at a local haunt with eleven loyal friends. Good night.

SILENCE

 

And bad luck.

 

SILENCE

 

Break some legs.

 

END.

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