Cold Heaven

Camille Roy

1993 • 89 pp. • $10.00
ISBN: 9781882022151

Purchase from Small Press Distribution

Cold Heaven is two plays with an introduction by the author. “Developing the piece in rehearsal was like driving into a hallucination that was clearly mine, and not mine.” Sometimes Dead is Better and Bye Bye Brunhilde are both plays that have the dissonant, radical beauty of poetry. Eileen Myles called Bye Bye Brunhilde “Not a play but an exploding poem by a bright new writer from the West Coast.” In it (“strange, sexy and abstract” — Lynne Tillman), the two women lovers are named Fear and Technique, and are not just morality figures of love but hallucinations of the viewers and listeners.

CAMILLE ROY is a writer and performer of fiction, poetry, and plays. Her most recent books include Cheap Speech, a play (Leroy), and Craquer, a fictional autobiography (2nd Story), as well as Swarm, two novellas (Black Star Series). Earlier books include The Rosy Medallions (Kelsey Street) and Cold Heaven, plays (O Books). She also co-edited Biting The Error: Writers Explore Narrative (Coach House) and was a founding editor of the online journal Narrativity. Roy has taught creative writing at San Francisco State University, California State University Summer Arts, and Naropa University. She lives and works in San Francisco.


And a dirty choco bar––Hershey please.
(Slides back down under the newspapers.)
Not too sweet and textured like…mud.
(Makes the noises of a small tortured animal.)

Are you okay?

FEAR (Pushing back the papers and crying out) :
ME!? What about you! You breeze in & out, looking for
yard action, or sour machines. Who knows where you
go! But you never bring back any money. Cash, you
know green stuff!

TECHNIQUE (defiantly):
Why work? I’d rather make wishing a policy, or try
theater. Workers are unappreciated––it’s a chronic

FEAR (grudgingly) :

TECHNIQUE (defensively) :
Hey! Just last month I had a job, right? But my boss
was so full of shame he embarrassed me. He had no-
self. So all my satisfactions drained away after working
for him––I felt diminished, though he didn’t intend
that. He was so sensitive to insinuation that I became
very subdued––finally I didn’t show up for work.
Then he fired me! Now…it’s just a slow period. I’m
(She puts on her leather jacket.)
Get used to it, baby.

FEAR (slides back under her newspapers) :

TECHNIQUE (snatches the newspapers and crumples them) :
Listen––I’m the thing I’ll make my fortune off of. Off of
(Points at her head.)
I just have to find my socket. ‘Cause I’m an engine, a
plane-jane. And I’ll be gone, when I’m gone.
(TECHNIQUE grabs her notebook & strides out towards
the audience; FEAR runs after her; stops short. TECHNIQUE sits at the
edge of the stage as though it were the steps to the apartment. She
flips urgently through her notebook until she locates a blank page.)

(To audience, intensely and intimately)
FEAR is an exaggerated escapade. Her thunder thighs
open, close. In a ‘between’ moment, FEAR crosses the
(TECHNIQUE scribbles a note in the notebook.)
FEAR is always increasing. Living in the gaps, every
tear in the social fabric is her domicile.
(Behind TECHNIQUE, in the apartment, FEAR slowly pulls off her
She draws the huge life and the vicious impulse
together. FEAR loses her head, so that her murders
cannot be explained. At the moment of death,
unexpected pleasures come to her, as ghosts slip into
her body with rushing movements.
(TECHNIQUE hastily scribbles another note.)
FEAR splits the daughter from the mother, into new
life. Each relation destroyed makes another new life, so
the daughter, FEAR, has many lives.
(FEAR slips behind a curtain.)
FEAR’s part is her Sex. She runs down the hall after
what appears and vanishes, enclosures without their
promises…But she always stops and comes back, for
FEAR never leaves the house.
(TECHNIQUE walks back into the apartment, carrying her note-
book and a paper bag. She looks briefly for FEAR, shrugs, then sits
in her chair, takes a hard boiled egg out of the bag and begins to
read one of her newspapers.)

(Peeking out from behind the curtain.)
Hello. May I come in? I’ve been irradiated. I need
enclosures as a third tongue.

TECHNIQUE (peeling her egg):
Is that it?
(Gives her a chocolate bar and cigarettes from the paper bag and
resumes reading.)
Come in or not.
(FEAR breaks the chocolate bar into tiny pieces and eats one. She
opens her Dunhills, smokes one luxuriously without lighting it.
When she notices she’s being ignored, she tosses the cigarette at

I can entertain you with stories from a childhood with
brothers and snakes.

(Resumes reading.)

FEAR (approaching TECHNIQUE):
My brother Clancy was on the phone with one of his
pet snakes wound round his neck.
(Snatches TECHNIQUE’s newspaper and rolls it up.)
It bit him––under his arm.
(Shoves the rolled up newspaper under her arm)
Shrieking, he lay down with both arms straight back,
while my other brother and I tried to get the snake out.
(She backs to the couch and collapses.)
We pulled and stretched but it only ground its teeth
deeper and deeper into Clancy’s underarm flesh. The
snake would not let go.
(FEAR sighs.)

TECHNIQUE (deep in thought, scribbling in her notebook):
You can be ethnic, and I’ll be demented, elemental..

But I’m not ethnic! Clancy had a baby iguana which
grew to be six feet long. It slept in his bed.

(Looks up, annoyed.)
Stop seeping.

FEAR (defiantly) :
I like sky writing. Your editing capabilities don’t
interest me.

TECHNIQUE (snaps her notebook shut and advances menacingly):
Understand, it is ominous to derive a past. Your
interest in negotiating the explicit darkens recognition
into flattery.

FEAR (backs off):
My slogan in white cloud!