by George Romaine
SPACE that tells the story of a group of artists/friends
who must consider leaving NYC because of the rising rents. cost of living in
the city. The protagonist, Ellen, an older artist, long time resident of
Gotham city decides to return to her hometown, Detroit to join the rush of
other artists coming to the Detroit Metro area to celebrate and enjoy the
revival of Detroit as an affordable, inspiring place to live /create.
Ellen's story and that of her friends is told with humor and pathos with an
appeal to all age groups. It is the story of Ellen and Bernard, a brother
sister "team" and their wrenching parting after years of living in NYC.
Their complex relationship is the core of the story. It is filled with
love/hate, mutual dependency and a passionate devotion to each other. Their
separation is that much more poignant because at their ages over 60,a
parting is frightening. Bernard wishes to stay in NYC to "the bitter end"
since he has a rent controlled apartment. Ellen despite her brother's
pleading, decides to be her own person, to take on Detroit regardless of all
of the desperate challenges. With strong determination Ellen will bring
along her daughter Jill and her boyfriend, Jack to occupy to form a commune
in the abandoned house in Detroit that she and Bernard have inherited. Jill
backs her mother's decision and says, "Mom, do as Virginia Woolf did,
finally have a room of your own."
(60), artist, ex-hippy, desperately searching for an apartment-studio
she can afford. Having kicked out boyfriend Tony, she had to leave the
apartment they shared when the rent tripled. She will soon have to leave
the Chelsea loft she has been house-sitting for a couple who are soon to
return. Following an unfruitful frantic search, she decides to return
her hometown, Detroit.
(65), Ellen's older brother, professor/writer. Luckily he has a small,
rent-controlled studio apartment, but it is so packed with books and
records that he can accommodate guests for only brief stays. He and
Ellen reminisce about their early departure from Detroit to seek
creative success in New York. Their dreams have not been fulfilled and
they cannot afford to live in the city. Bernard resists Ellen's urging
that he move back with her to the family home in Detroit. He fears
leaving New York, which he loves.
(20s), Ellen's daughter, student and aspiring writer, has been sharing
an apartment with boyfriend and two other roommates. She dreams of
escape and decides seek new opportunities by moving to Detroit with her
(20) Jill's foggy computer nerd boyfriend, who does what she tells him,
considers himself a computer whiz and dreams of �making it� in Silicon
Valley, but is dissuaded by Tony, who tells him that Detroit is an
emerging tech center and urges him to go along with Jill and Ellen's
(late 40s) Ellen's ex-boyfriend, ex-construction worker, obsessive
body-builder, ex-owner of stripper joint. Tries to convince Ellen to
make up and let him move back in. Eventually proves himself useful in
facilitating Ellen and tribe returning to Detroit.
(40s) Interior designer, gay, Ellen�s long-time friend, he and partner
Ken live in building where Ellen is house sitting. Extravagant,
flamboyant, Liberace-like. Forces Ken to leave, misses him, seeks
(40s) Doctorate in Classic Studies, proprietor of rare book store,
handsome, was Marvin�s trophy boyfriend. After being kicked out, goes to
live with Tony and his mother, eventually returning to Marvin.
Letter of recommendation from MATTHEW SUSSMAN:
To whom it may concern:
My name is Matthew Sussman. I'm writing to highly recommend you read George
Romaine's funny and moving drama of modern anxiety, SPACE. As a literary
consultant, I was employed for years as a script and book reader in the
entertainment industry, having written coverage on hundreds of works for
companies including The William Morris Agency, ABC Television, and Universal
Pictures. I am also the co-writer with John Turturro, of a screenplay,
Leaving Losapas, now in development. Lastly, I received my BA in Dramatic
Literature from Brown University and my MFA from the Yale Drama School.
I am also a former actor. My credits include the original Broadway company of
Angels in America, Doug Hughes Obie award-winning premiere of Tim Blake
Nelson's The Grey Zone at MCC, the U.S. Premiere of Shopping and Fucking
at NYTW, film and TV roles in The Sopranos, Wonderland, Pollock, Kate
and Leopold, and many others. I was later a documentary producer and writer
for cable TV (New York Times Television, Granada, Discovery Channel, etc.)
and a documentary filmmaker. A feature I directed, Who is Norman Lloyd?
("An inspiring film," said The New York Times) was also a selection at the
Telluride Film Festival, followed by a run at Film Forum. Currently, George
Creative Director for marketing at The New School.
The play, set among an eclectic but emotionally close group of creative
people whose lives are in turmoil from within and without, is set in motion
by the nearly impossible challenge of finding and keeping livable housing in
New York City today. Credible and keenly-observed, the couplings,
un-couplings, re-couplings and the myriad conflicts over schemes for
domestic survival, shelter and artistic needs (literally the room needed to
express one�s creative talents) are handled both skillfully and with real
When SPACE is funny, it is particularly so because the laughs come
organically from the vivid language, personal traits, and the handling of
high-stakes circumstances by the believable and very smart characters
scrambling to figure it all out (the broader ones among them always reveal
unexpected sides that prevent them from being anything like mere
caricature). And when sorrow, regret, nostalgia for a better time, youthful
uncertainty, disillusionment, growing old and growing apart come into play,
the seriousness is truly affecting, the pain palpable and never imposed upon
the characters. Quite the opposite, these people can't help but feel the
realities of their situations and these are eloquent folk so that their
speeches and dialogue are wholly connected to who they are.
I have read the play aloud several times and find the play extremely
actable, briskly paced, and dramatically modulated both within scenes and
between them so the music of it all is just right. SPACE is a terrific mix
of comedy and pathos, always underlined by human conflict. One of the things
I love about it is the expression it gives to hopefulness of those who still
hang onto it despite grave disappointment in life and those who are
experiencing hope as young, confused and innocent strivers. Also wonderful
is the love that connects the characters ,something which may at times seem
to be fraying but is never broken completely. It is always in the air the
characters breathe. It is their true shelter.
In all, this is a play that really merits your time to give it a good
reading. Mr. Romaine has taken on a lot here but he shows a real flair for
keeping the balls in the air and making it a very enjoyable and moving
circus act of human crises.
Please feel free to contact me at
or call me at 917-921-2585.
Sincerely, Matthew Sussman
Also available from this