Becca Plunkett is a multidisciplinary artist from Austin, Texas. She currently lives, works, and creates in New York City. Though she is primarily a playwright and screenwriter, Becca also acts, designs, makes music, and creates found-object art installations. She was a resident artist at the Rhodopi International Theatre Laboratory in Smolyan, Bulgaria, where she studied performance traditions such as Kathakali, Kabuki, Commedia dell’arte, and Peking Opera. Many of her plays are influenced by these performance techniques and often explore gender roles, class structure, misogyny, and semiotics/codification. Becca has worked on projects in Macedonia, Poland, Bulgaria, and Argentina. Her plays include: A DollZes HoUse (Signature Theatre, New York, NY; semi-finalist for the 2018 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference); The Conflabbergation (Schapiro Theater, New York, NY); Love Is, Love Was (Schapiro Theater, New York, NY); Midge, Maxine, and the Great Emojionario (Studio 137, Brooklyn, NY); The Wedding, or The Rebellion (Salvage Vanguard Theatre, Austin, TX); and The Fifth Sun (The Vortex, Austin, TX; The RITL, Smolyan, Bulgaria; Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX). Her TV pilots and screenplays include: Angry Beef Bucket (half-hour comedy); Knights & Weekends (half-hour comedy, co-written with Ellen Steves); The Roommate (full- length screenplay); #SELFIE (short-film); and Qué Sé Yo? (short-film; screened at La Fundación Universidad del Cine, Buenos Aires, Argentina). She recently wrote four episodes for Chap Three Productions’ new web-series, CITY KITTIES, which which premier in the spring of 2020. Becca hold an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University. 

LOVE IS, LOVE WAS

A Travesty

Becca Plunkett

 

CHARACTERS

HUTCHINSON (m), the Great Writer, impossibly old.

LACY (f), the Great Writer's intern, young and enthusiastic.

SCENE ONE: LACY MEETS THE GREAT WRITER

The Great Writer’s office - handsome, distinguished.

Several containers filled with sharpened pencils sit atop the Great Writer’s desk. The Great Writer likes his pencils nice and sharp, as all Great Writers do.

Dull, rejected pencils cover the office floor. Great Writers do not write with dull pencils.

HUTCHINSON sits behind the desk. He writes, like a Great Writer does.

HUTCHINSON

Love is… Love IS…

Hutchinson glares at the end of his pencil. Too dull. He throws the pencil across the room. Crosses to a pencil sharpener down left. Sharpens the pencil. Returns to his desk. Begins to write again.

HUTCHINSON

Love is... Love was... Love... A delicate...

 

He scowls. Looks at the end of his pencil. Throws it across the room. Sharpens. Begins again.

HUTCHINSON

Love is… Love was… Love… A delicate… Little… Miniature… Poodle.

(Re-reading the words)

“Love is, love was. Love: a delicate, little miniature poodle.” That’s it! Brilliant! Next stanza! 

He throws the pencil across the room as LACY enters. She screams as the pencil flies at her. 

HUTCHINSON

Who the hell are you? 

LACY

(Picking up discarded pencil)

I’m Lacy. Your new intern. I’m excited to be here!

HUTCHINSON

It’s too dull! You can’t possibly expect me to write with a pencil so dull!

LACY

I’m sorry, I didn’t—

HUTCHINSON

I think you will learn a lot interning for me, Macy.

LACY

Lacy.

HUTCHINSON

You clearly have a lot to learn about writing.

LACY

Yes, Sir. I do.

Lacy excitedly removes a sheet of paper from her bag and attempts to hand it to Hutchinson.

LACY

I was actually hoping that you could, perhaps, take a look at one of my poems?

HUTCHINSON

Not now!

LACY

I’m sorry, Sir.

HUTCHINSON

Tell me, Macy, why have you decided to intern with me?

LACY

You’re the Great Writer.

HUTCHINSON

That I am.

LACY

And I am a student of writing.

HUTCHINSON

That you are.

LACY

With hopes of one day becoming a great writer myself.

HUTCHINSON

Ha!

LACY

(Inching closer to Hutchinson)

With your guidance, I am certain I could. I am deeply inspired by your work, Mr. Hutchinson. The depth and range of emotion... I try so hard to capture it in my own work... I...

 

She is uncomfortably close to him.

HUTCHINSON

You?

LACY

I... have admired your prose since I was a little girl. I’ve imagined meeting you my entire life. And here you are... The way your mind must work! I want to understand the inner-workings of it. I want to understand the depths of your heart and soul. I want to possess your brain, Sir! 

Hutchinson considers her.

HUTCHINSON

Have you any experience sharpening pencils?

LACY

Pardon?

HUTCHINSON

Pencils. Do you know how to sharpen them?

LACY

Yes, Sir. I have sharpened a few pencils in my day. 

He gives her a pencil. Motions to the pencil sharpener. He wants a demonstration.

Lucy demonstrates her ability.

Hutchinson scrutinizes the finished product.

HUTCHINSON

I think you will suffice, Macy.

LACY

Lacy.

HUTCHINSON

Commence sharpening.

BLACK OUT.

SCENE TWO: THE GREAT WRITER REQUESTS TO FEEL LACY’S FLAT, MISSHAPEN BREASTS

Week two of the internship.

Hutchinson writes. Lacy sharpens.

HUTCHINSON

Fluffy like the … like the … STACY!

LACY

Have you finished, Sir? Are you ready to read my poem? I have it right here! 

HUTCHINSON

What the hell is wrong with you?! I simply need another pencil.

LACY

Oh.

HUTCHINSON

Writing takes time, Gracie. Greatness takes time.

LACY

Of course… It’s just…

HUTCHINSON

Yes?

LACY

It’s just... This is my second week of employment with you, Sir, and I... Well, I... Well, I ... Well, I...

HUTCHINSON

Well you, well you, well you what?!

LACY

Well, I... was hoping the internship might include a little instruction on my writing.

HUTCHINSON

What’s your point?

LACY

My point is... My point is... My point IS... All I have done so far is sharpen pencils.

HUTCHINSON

So?

LACY

I was hoping for a bit more. Don’t get me wrong - I am grateful just to be here, soaking up the creative genius in the room ... But my fingers hurt. And I’m fairly certain I’m developing early onset carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand. And, as you know, carpal tunnel is practically a death sentence to a writer.

     

HUTCHINSON

Sharpen with your other hand.

LACY

What? No, that’s not the - What I’m trying to say is... Is... IS... Do you think it might be possible for me to sharpen less and write and observe more?

Hutchinson considers her.

HUTCHINSON

Come here, Pacey.

LACY

(Approaching him cautiously)

Lacy.

HUTCHINSON

Closer… Sit.

LACY

Umm…

HUTCHINSON

Here, on my lap.

LACY

On your –

HUTCHINSON

Sit down, Macy!

Lacy sits.

HUTCHINSON

Now. Let me feel your breasts.

LACY

My, my – 

HUTCHINSON

Breasts. Boobies.

LACY

Sir, I’m not really – 

HUTCHINSON

Does my request make you uncomfortable?

LACY

To be honest, Sir, yes, I am exceedingly uncomfortable right now.

HUTCHINSON

Good. Because your boobies are flat and misshapen anyway.

(He shoves Lacy from his lap.)

Now, I’m going to tell you something that my mentor told me a long time ago … GET BACK TO SHARPENING!

LACY

Mr. Hutchinson – 

HUTCHINSON

You think I haven’t sharpened my share of pencils, Spacey? You think people haven’t requested to feel my boobies? I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to become the Great Writer. Ha! It took sweat, and blood, and sharpened pencils. After you have sharpened your share of pencils, and after I have finished my latest masterpiece, we can discuss a promotion to writing and observing. Until that time, keep your mouth shut and my pencils pointy! 

BLACK OUT.

SCENE THREE: THE GREAT WRITER DENOUNCES THE USE OF NEWFANGLED WRITING TECHNOLOGIES

Week three of the internship.

Hutchinson paces around his office, agitated. A mound of dull, broken pencils sits atop his desk. He glares at the mound as he paces.

HUTCHINSON

Three minutes late ... The stupid little frump. When I interned for the Great Writer I was always on time. He would’ve run me through the sharpener if I were late. He would’ve stabbed me in the jugular.

(He sighs.)

Things are different now. Times have changed. Women are writing. Having their periods and writing all over the place. The profession has been bastardized. The pencil industry is declining. Modern pencil craftsmanship is for shit. 

(Another sigh.)

HUTCHINSON (CONT'D) 

Sometimes I feel I no longer have a place in this world, that I’ve become obsolete, that the younger generation will overtake me and I’ll melt into a massive puddle of mediocrity.

(He is struck by a brilliant idea.)

Puddle, poodle! A-ha!

Hutchinson hurriedly transcribes.

Lacy enters with a small package.

HUTCHINSON

You’re late!

LACY

I’m sorry, Sir. It won’t happen again. I was actually out getting a small gift for you... 

(She hands him the package. He looks at it skeptically.)

Open it. 

Hutchinson opens the package, revealing a pack of ball-point pens. He examines the product, scandalized. 

LACY

It’s a package of pens, Sir. So you don’t have to worry about your pencils being sharp all of the time. Pens are always pointy. I figured that without the need for so many sharpened pencils, I would have time to observe your process and learn a little about writing. 

Hutchinson crosses to the door, pens in hand. He jerks it open, throws the package of pens out, and slams the door shut.

HUTCHINSON

I will not be undermined by your technologically advanced hand-held devices! 

LACY

But, Sir, they’re just pens.

HUTCHINSON

Great writers do not use pens, Macy. Great writers write with pencils. Your generation is adulterating the art with your newfangled writing technologies and ideologies. I will not tolerate such blasphemy in this office. I am the Great Writer, and I will therefore write with pencils!

BLACK OUT.

SCENE FOUR: IN AN ACT OF UTTER DESPERATION, LACY ATTEMPTS TO USE HER FLAT, MISSHAPEN BREASTS TO SEDUCE THE GREAT WRITER

Week four of the internship.
 

Lacy stands at the sharpener, alone and dejected.

The sharpener jams. Frustrated, Lacy forcefully removes and reinserts the problematic pencil. The machine makes a horrible noise. She tries again, positioning herself for maximum leverage. The machine screeches and wails as she inserts the pencil. Using all of her strength, Lacy attempts a third time. The machine spits out the the pencil and Lacy loses her balance, crashing to the ground.

LACY

Oh, I hate this internship sometimes! I’m trying to remain optimistic. But yesterday my pinky got stuck in the pencil sharpener. It ate my fingernail. And the carpal tunnel has spread to my left hand. So now both of my hands are gimpy and misshapen. Like my breasts. I should’ve just let him feel my breasts. Maybe he would’ve read my poem by now if I had. Maybe this whole thing would be going differently ... 

The door swings open. Hutchinson enters, using his rolling chair as a walker. Lacy remains on the floor, deep in thought, pondering the ways her flat, misshapen breasts have negatively impacted the internship, pondering the ways her flat misshapen breasts might be used to improve the internship. 

HUTCHINSON

Tracy! What are you doing down there? Get to work, you useless little frump! 

LACY

I’m sorry, Sir.

HUTCHINSON

I don’t pay you to wallow around on the floor like a piggy. In fact, I don’t pay you at all. Because you’re an intern. Ha! Now get to work!

                   Hutchinson goes to his desk. He writes. Lacy ponders.

HUTCHINSON

Poodle … Poooooodle ... 

Lacy stuffs her bra with tissues.

She will use her flat misshapen breasts to seduce the Great Writer, thus improving his mood and increasing the likelihood that he will read her poem. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures. 

HUTCHINSON

Grrrrr ... Ruff ruff ...

Lacy removes a small mirror and applies copious amounts of lipstick.

HUTCHINSON

Fluffy ... Muffy ... Duffy? Ha! …

(Throwing the pencil across the room)

New pencil, Casey!

Lacy takes another look in the mirror, inhales, and snaps it shut. 

Seductively, she unbuttons the top button of her shirt and perks up her lumpy breasts. She sways over to Hutchinson and teases him with the pencil.

LACY

Here you go, Sir.

She traces the pencil along Hutchinson’s body. He snatches it.

HUTCHINSON

What the hell is wrong with you? Get back to work!

LACY

Mr. Hutchinson, there is something I have to tell you first.

She lets her hair down and swishes it around music video style. 

HUTCHINSON

(Not amused) 

Yes.

LACY

Well, Sir, in the short time I have been working here... I have grown rather... This is to say ... You are... Or... I am... 

HUTCHINSON

God, this is painful.

LACY

Mr. Hutchinson, I fucking love you. Watching you work gets me so ... It gets me so .... Fucking hott ... You’re so fucking hott ... Your mind ... Your brain ... I want you to read my poem ... Right now ... Right here on top of me ... 

Hutchinson begins to laugh. It begins as a chuckle and gradually becomes a giant guffaw. 

HUTCHINSON

Oh for the love of God! You think that I - You’re an intern! And a frumpy one at that! With very poor pencil sharpening skills!

LACY

But I, but you - you asked to feel my breasts! And now I’m letting you!

HUTCHINSON

Oh, for the love of God! That was a small test, Facey, an orientation, if you will. Strictly for my own enjoyment, of course. 

LACY

A test –

HUTCHINSON

To determine if you were to be written off as a slutty whore! You passed at the time, but now- 

(The laugher overwhelms him.)

To think that the Great Writer would ever consider –

(Another giant guffaw.)

Go back to your sharpening, Macy! You have thoroughly succeeded in making an ass of yourself for the day! “Oh, Mr. Hutchinson, I fucking love you.” Ha! 

LACY

Mr. Hutchinson, I –

HUTCHINSON

Macy, just shut up! Your boobies are of no interest to me. I’ve got writing to do. And unless I am mistaken, you’ve got sharpening to do.

He throws a dull pencil at her.

Lacy is defeated.

BLACK OUT.

SCENE FIVE: THE GREAT WRITER READS LACY'S POEM

                      Week five of the internship.

                     Hutchinson writes. Lacy sharpens, a stone cold expression on her face.

                     HUTCHINSON

Fluffy like the ... cushion ... Macy! I need another pencil! 

LACY

Not yet, Sir.

HUTCHINSON

And why not?

LACY

Because you told me not to give you another pencil until you have written ten words. It appears you have only written four words thus far. 

HUTCHINSON

When did I provide such ridiculous instructions? 

LACY

Just this morning.

HUTCHINSON

I said no such thing.

LACY

Yes, you did.

HUTCHINSON

Did NOT.

LACY

Did so.

HUTCHINSON

Did NOT.

LACY

Mr. Hutchinson!

A standoff.

HUTCHINSON

(Returning to his work, begrudgingly.)

You’ve got a lot to learn about writing, Macy.

LACY

Well, perhaps if you would provide some feedback on my work I –

HUTCHINSON

Quiet! I’m trying to work! I’ve told you a million times that I will look at your precious poem after I’ve finished my own precious poem. 

(Beat.)

Fluffy like the... cushion... on my... favorite... This pencil is no good! I cannot write with this pencil! I cannot write with this pencil anywhere near me! 

 

Hutchinson throws the pencil across the room. Lacy returns it.

LACY

Three more words, Mr. Hutchinson.

Hutchinson snatches the pencil. Scowls. Returns to his writing.

HUTCHINSON

Fluffy like the cushion on my favorite ... sofa ... little poodle. 

(Re-reading the words)

“Fluffy like the cushion on my favorite sofa, little poodle”! That’s it! Brilliant! New pencil, Macy! 

Hutchinson throws the pencil across the room. Lacy brings him a fresh pencil. 

LACY

And after this stanza, you’ll take a look at my poem, yes? I only have one week left here. 

Hutchinson snatches the pencil. Examines it.

HUTCHINSON

Macy, what kind of pencil is this?

LACY

Number 2. HB. Hexagonal shaft. One hundred percent cedar. 

HUTCHINSON

Hmmm …

(He sniffs it. Rolls it in his fingers. Examines it closely.)

The collar is disproportionate to the ferrule. The potpourri is harsh and metallic on the nose. The cedar is blemished, displeasing to the fingertips. In summation, this pencil is complete shit! How can you expect me to write with such a shitty pencil?! 

Hutchinson throws the pencil across the room. Wearily, Macy selects a different pencil and carries it over to Hutchinson. She bitterly places it on the desk in front of him and returns to her sharpening station.

HUTCHINSON

Someone has a bit of an attitude today.

Lacy does not respond.

                                                

HUTCHINSON

These interns. They always have such an ego.

Still nothing.

HUTCHINSON

Get their feelings hurt so easily.

Lacy sharpens and sharpens.

HUTCHINSON

Boo-hoo-hoo. I’m in love with the Great Writer. Boo-hoo-hoo. The Great Writer doesn’t love me back because I’m frumpy and stupid and will never be a great writer myself. Boo- hoo-hoo. 

LACY

I will.

HUTCHINSON

Huh?

LACY

I will be a great writer. With or without your help.

HUTCHINSON

Ha!

LACY

How would you know?

HUTCHINSON

Huh?

LACY

How would you know if I were a good writer or not? You’ve never read my work. I’ve been here six weeks and you’ve never looked at anything I’ve written. In fact, all you’ve done is berate me with insults and make me sharpen pencils until my fingers are raw. 

HUTCHINSON

(Cutting her off)

Shut up! Inspiration has struck, Facey! I’ve got it! I’ve got the end!

Hutchinson rushes to his desk and scribbles furiously.

Beat.

                                                            

HUTCHINSON

Tracy, I have finished my poem.

LACY

You have.

HUTCHINSON

I have. And, as per our agreement, I will now provide feedback on your poem. Hand it over. 

Lacy stares, dumbstruck.

                        

HUTCHINSON

Well, I haven’t got all day! Give it to me!

A beat. It is almost too good to be true.

LACY

(Excitedly giving Hutchinson the poem)

Oh my God! Thank you, Sir! I think you’ll be quite pleased! Oh my God, the Great Writer is going to read my poem! 

Hutchinson reads.

And reads.

It was too good to be true.

                                                            

Hutchinson rips Lacy’s poem into tiny pieces.

HUTCHINSON

(Still ripping)

This is what I think of your stupid little poem, Macy! It’s complete shit! Just like all of the pencils you sharpen! You call this a poem? Ha! 

He shoves a handful of the shreds into his mouth. Chews them. Spits them out.

HUTCHINSON

It’s complete garbage! You’ll never be a great writer, you frumpy little whore! 

A tense pause.

Then:

Like a wild beast, Lacy snatches one of the sharpened pencils from atop the desk and savagely stabs Hutchinson with it. She stabs and stabs and stabs. 

LACY

You can’t just treat people like this! You wretched lump of hatred! Oh, I’m the Great Writer. Oh, I write perfect, prissy poems with my perfect, pointy pencils and my latest poem is about a perfect, prissy poodle. Well, fuck you! 

(Crying)

You wouldn’t even give me feedback on my poem. You chewed it up and ate it like a goat! God, you’re a foul creature! You’re absolutely despicable. 

(She kisses dead Hutchinson smack on the lips.)

Oh, that mind! That beautiful mind. I sharpened all of those stupid pencils just to be near you. Just so I could soak up the waves of brilliance emitting from your squishy, pink brain. And so you could give me feedback on my poem. 

(She rolls Hutchinson’s body offstage.)

Which you didn’t even do. Because you ate it. Why do I worship you like this?! God, I hate myself!

Lacy disappears into the darkness.

The screeching noise of a buzz saw.

                                                            

BLACK OUT.

SCENE SEVEN: LACY WINS AN AWARD 

An award ceremony. Lacy stands center stage with a large, bloody trophy. 

The trophy is Hutchinson’s brain. 

LACY

Thank you all so much for being here today, and for giving me this award. And now without further ado, my award winning poem, Love Is, Love Was. 

(Reading)

Love is, love was.
Love: A delicate, little miniature poodle.
Woof woof. Little poodle.
Woof woof, woof woof.
So small, and fluffy, my delicate, little miniature poodle. Woof woof, woof woof.
Love is, love was.
Fluffy like the cushions on my favorite sofa.
Little poodle. Little poodle.
Love is, love was. 

END OF PLAY. 

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