SPACE 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."


Cast of Characters

  • ELLEN (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.

  • BERNARD (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.

  • JILL (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 mother.

  • JACK (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 plan.

  • TONY (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.

  • MARVIN (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 Ellen�s advice.

  • KEN (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.

A 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 is the 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 depth.

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

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