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Volume 17, Issue 4: Pictura

Rebel Factory: A Play in One Act

Douglas Jones

The Personality Director walks around frenetically. The Director's Friend sits and listens.
Personality Director: I said rut. A rut. I'm in some sort of rut. Have been for weeks.
Director Friend: Weeks? You say this every year.
Personality Director: Yeah. No. Really? Yeah, you're right. I just get stuck.
Director Friend: : Year? Every decade around this time. No, century. Every century you tell me this.
Personality Director: I just need a rest. Then I'll find a new path. I'll be creative again.
Director Friend: You can't be that bad. Show me.
Personality Director: Show you? Now?
Director Friend: Call in your next. I saw someone in reception.
Personality Director: Good. Yeah. You can give me tips. Tell me where I'm flat.
Personality Director goes to intercom and calls.
Personality Director: Pat, send in Sid Martin.
Director Friend: We all go through this. Just relax.
Sid Martin enters, walks very stiffly, bit nerdish, bumping into things. The other two watch a bit perplexed but don't speak. Sid finally finds a central chair by himself.
Sid: (deadpan, a bit dim) I want to be a rebel.
Personality Director: That's my job, Sid. Glad you could make it.
Sid: I want to be a rebel.
Personality Director: I've qualified three-hundred thousand people this past year to be rebels. What makes you think you have the stuff?
Sid: (nervous but not angry) You, you can help me. They said so. I want to be a rebel.
Personality Director: Okay, Sid. Don't get angry. You want our advice program. Right? You want me to prep you?
Sid: Yes, sir. A rebel. Yes. I want to be.
Personality Director: Rebels don't say "yes sir." Show me your best stuff.
Sid: What?
Personality Director: Show me what you can do?
Sid: That's why I'm here. I don't know how.
Personality Director: You must have something I can work with, though. Give me something to start.
Sid: Okay. (Sid stands) Uh, um, okay, paint it black! Paint it black! I hate my mother. I hate WalMart! I hate—
Personality Director: Sit down, sit down. That's enough. You're about a class-Q4 rebel, right now.
Sid: Oh no, uh, man. I'm higher than that.
Personality Director: Sorry Sid. You're Q4. Quoting Rolling Stones lyrics. Hating mommy and WalMart is so college freshman. You need to be fresh. You need to be a new creative rebel.
Sid: Yeah, that's me. Creative.
Personality Director: I'll need about twenty sessions with you. (Sid nodding) Okay, let's get started. Something new, right? A fresh rebel?
Sid keeps nodding, and Personality Director paces, thinking.
Personality Director: Can you handle profundity, Sid? Can you absorb something really deep? (Sid nods) Think of this then. Don't pass it around or I'll sue your pants off. Lesson one. Think of this: (profound tone, slowly) whatever someone mainstream does, you do the opposite.
Sid: (sincerely impressed) Wow, you are good. I never thought of that.
Personality Director: Whatever someone mainstream does, you do the opposite.
Sid: Say it again.
Personality Director: No, Sid. That's plenty. Let's see you apply it now. Show us how it might work in real life.
Sid: Um, uh, if everyone wears colors, I'll wear black.
Personality Director: Good job. You're quick.
Sid: Um, if everyone has short hair, I'll wear mine long.
Personality Director: Yes, yes!
Sid: If, if everyone loves WalMart, I'll hate it.
Personality Director: Okay, wonderful. WalMart again. Whew. That's plenty for today. Let's not exhaust ourselves.
Sid: If, everyone, if everyone—
Personality Director: That's enough, Sid. Let's not lose the moment. Good work. But the session's over. You learn quickly.
Sid rises and Personality Director walks him toward door.
Sid: So next time I get a new lesson? A new rule?
Personality Director: (nervous, doubting) Yeah, well, something like that. More like practice. We'll keep practicing this lesson.
Sid: But you said I got it.
Personality Director: But that's a pretty good rule, no? You said "wow" yourself?
Sid: But you said I got it.
Personality Director: (pushing Sid out door) Bye now. See you next week same time.
Sid exits. Personality Director looks immediately to Director Friend for some feedback.
Director Friend: Man, you're really, really bad at this, aren't you?
Personality Director: I knew it! I knew it! I can't help it.
Director Friend: You need a break.
Personality Director: I try to make my lips say something different, but the same thing keeps coming out.
Director Friend: Couldn't you take a creativity class or something?
Personality Director: (not listening) I told the same thing to Voltaire and Byron and the Doors and Madonna.
Director Friend: Start over. Act as if this was your first day on the job.
Personality Director: Just be the opposite, I say. That's the only lesson I have. They pay me millions. No rebel ever challenges me. They just suck it up.
Director Friend: What about getting a substitute? Just for a decade or so.
Personality Director: No. They'll never let me back. The next person will have real creativity, and I'll be out. I don't trust anyone.
Director Friend: Get the next appointment in here.
Personality Director: No way. Okay. No, I'll do the same thing, I'm sure.
Director Friend: (grabs his friend by shoulders) Listen to me. Don't talk that way. You are not a loser.
Personality Director: What do I say then, if you're so smart?
Director Friend: Let's see, let's see. Think. Think. It's not just being opposite. Being a rebel is about . . . about . . . freedom, fighting oppression, fight mediocrity!
Personality Director: That's great. Yes, I can work with that. I can do it. (goes to intercom) Pat, send in Britney Anderson.
Personality Director paces, thinking.
Director Friend: And being a rebel is about throwing off the weight of tradition.
Britney Anderson enters confidently.
Britney: Hi, I'm Britney. Shall I sit here?
Personality Director: Please, yes. I've read your file. Very interesting. You appear to be a L-8 level rebel.
Britney: To get right to it, I'm suffocated by life around me. I want to break out. I need to be more rebellious. I'm too tame. Everything is too neat and clean. I want to do something crazy and new.
Personality Director: (realization) I think I can help you. I've helped reshape history.
Britney: That's what I've heard.
Personality Director: Britney, listen carefully. You need, you need (slowly) to rage against the machine.
Britney: You mean, like, just do the opposite?
Personality Director: No! No, that's not what I mean. Listen carefully. You need to turn the box inside out. Inversions.
Britney: Uh . . . do the opposite?
Personality Director: No, no, you're not listening. You can kill the revolutionary, but you can't kill the revolution. Keep on rockin' in the free world.
Britney: Oh, yeah, I get it. Do the opposite.
Personality Director: (to Director Friend ) See. Do you see this? I can't do this. No matter what I say.
Britney: What's wrong?
Director Friend: (to Personality Director) Wait. Come here. (he whispers in Personality Director's ear)
Personality Director: (to Director Friend) Okay, good. Yes, that makes sense. (to Britney) Well, Britney, I'd like you to think about this: I want you to stop wanting to be a parasite on others. Don't live by tearing others down. I want you to be truly creative. I want you to construct something beautiful, so beautiful it will take people's breath away. Britney: Oooh, yes, like pierce my eyebrow? Most people don't do that, so I would be doing the opposite.
Personality Director: (to Director Friend) Is it me? Is it really me?
Director Friend: It's like a curse. Kinda creepy. No matter what you say.
Personality Director: (to Britney) Okay, try this. Britney, what time is it?
Britney: What time is it NOT? (proud)
Director Friend: (to Personality Director) Wow, you're hopeless. You're actually Titanic hopeless. Frog crossing a freeway hopeless. You need to find a new line of work.
Personality Director: Like what? What could I do? I've only got this one skill.
Director Friend: Don't give in. Let's think.
Personality Director: I think I've got it.
Britney: Me too. I know what you could do.
Personality Director: Uniforms.
Britney: Yes, uniforms! Manufacture uniforms.
Director Friend: Perfect. Yes! Uniforms for rebels. Go on man. Get out of here. You've got it.
Personality Director: Why didn't I think of this before? Millions of nonconformists need uniforms. Rebel fashion. Maybe something hip and urban. It's never been done.
Personality Director runs off stage elated. Director Friend takes seat where Personality Director sat.
Director Friend: Well, now, that was fun. It feels good to help people. Now, let's get back to you, Britney.
Britney: So, are you taking his—
Director Friend: I've always wanted his job. I used to approve neurotic, intellectual, New Yorker types. Talk about a glut.
Britney: I'm suffocated by life around me. I want to break out. I'm too tame.
Director Friend: Well, now, let me think. How about — hear me out now — are you adventurous? How about just doing the opposite?
Britney: Wow, you are good.

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