May 18, 2022

Truth in Gay Clothes, or Gagarin’s Space Suit: Part I

By Jenny Romaine & Yevgeniy Fiks

A conversation between Jenny Romaine and Yevgeniy Fiks

Jenny Romaine, photograph by Daniel Terna, 2022

Editor’s Note

In the winter of 2021, Ayin’s editorial team connected with multimedia artists Jenny Romaine and Yevgeniy Fiks. At the time, Jenny and Yevgeniy were working together to organize the Yiddishland Pavilion—an “independent transnational pavilion bringing together artists and scholars who activate Yiddish and the diasporic Jewish discourse in contemporary artistic practice”—for the 2022 Venice Biennale. Both artists have been staging historically critical, geographically specific creative research projects for decades. And we felt their work spoke particularly well to the cosmo-politico-absurdity of this journal’s theme—and of our times. 

Jenny and Yevgeniy met over Zoom to record an epic, wide-ranging interview delving into each of their artistic practices and personal histories. The result is a unique historical document—an authentic expression of each artist’s intersectional approach to aesthetics, history, politics, identity, and humor. 

After the interview, on the Lower East Side, Ayin cofounder Tom Haviv met up with photographer Daniel Terna to photograph the two artists near some important landmarks of Jewish and Yiddish history.

Jenny Romaine

Oh my gosh, it is so cool that we’re talking to each other. I’m older than you. I just think it’s interesting . . . I was born in 1962, so I’ve got more Cold-War-time-on-Earth years than you do. Should we flip a coin to see who goes first? Or do you just want to go first?

Yevgeniy Fiks

I can go first.




I was thinking about the Holy Fool in relation to my work and, well—I’ve done quite a few projects about Western communists who would come to the Soviet Union and do work, especially queer Soviet communists and Western communists. And in relation to my work, I think that’s as close as it gets to this idea of the Holy Fool: these highly idealistic Western communists who had so much belief in, let’s say, communist ideals or the Soviet Union as a project that they would risk so much—and really go beyond what was considered normal in bourgeois or even in communist circles.

Specifically, I was thinking about this Scottish communist and editor, Harry Whyte, who came to the Soviet Union in the early 1930s, and began working for an English-language Soviet newspaper called the Moscow News. During that period, between 1933–1934, male homosexuality was being recriminalized in the Soviet Union. Whyte heard that this new antigay law was coming through communist circles, because he was highly positioned in the newspaper. So he wrote a letter to Stalin in which he said something along the lines of: “I’m gay and I’m a communist; how can you explain to me, communist to communist, the purpose of this bourgeois repression of sexual desire?”

Stalin read the letter and wrote in the margins, “An idiot and a degenerate,” but then he also wrote: “Archive.” On the one hand, the letter was outrageous, but at the same time, I guess it was not so outrageous that it couldn’t be archived. So the letter didn’t go into the garbage bin. Then, in the early 1990s, it was found in the archives of the Russian government, and it was republished. So I included it in one of my projects called Moscow, a book about Moscow’s gay history.

But I think this kind of absolute devotion and belief epitomizes the Holy Fool: this Scottish communist who is basically, I think, the Holy Fool of communism-as-religion. Eventually Whyte left––he wasn’t arrested or anything, he just left Moscow––and then he worked for the British government during the Second World War, in the spy division or something. I think he got disillusioned with communism, at least with the Soviet model, and he died after the war. But it’s interesting that after he left the Soviet Union, he went back into the closet. 

So he was never really openly gay in the British context. I guess he felt much more comfortable coming out to Stalin than to his community in a British bourgeois milieu or Scottish environment. So it seems he kind of grew out of his role as a Holy Fool. And he became a proper—or I don’t know, maybe not so proper, but still—a British subject.


I think that’s the pull quote: “He felt much more comfortable coming out to Stalin.”


Yes! What do you think, Jenny, what’s your take on the Holy Fool?


I think my first association is with puppetry and how a lot of puppeteers in traditional cultures are priests, but they’re also people who “read” the government. They’re very critical and satiric. They take the piss out of everybody, they’re like Mr. Punch, or the id, and because they’re in this realm of the Fool, they can say all kinds of things. 

For example, during the emergence of the dictatorship in Indonesia in the 1960s, there was a lot of censorship, but a great deal could still be expressed through puppet shows. The dalangs, that’s what they’re called, these puppeteers in Indonesia and Bali, tell these epic stories infused with current political commentary—spoken by a set of clown characters (whose leader, by the way, is quite gender fluid). And these clowns make fun of all the other characters, and also everybody in the audience; they talk about the rich people in the community, who’s having an affair with whom, and other taboo subjects.

These characters are also very visual; they have personalities, but they’re primarily images; they’re shadow puppets. And they do all kinds of funny things. They fight, they’re nonrealistic, and they’re unrestrained by the laws of gravity; they’re basically shapeshifters.

The dalangs will very often speak many languages. They’ll speak the local language, middle Javanese and high Javanese, and maybe even Sanskrit. And they are priestly in their mystical understanding of these epic stories. I’ve met a couple of dalangs who were like, “Oh yeah, I definitely astral-project.” They’re very spiritual people, but they’re also clowns. And I guess I’ve always connected to that.

So, the kind of humor I do isn’t just stupid. I mean, I love to work with people who make really stupid jokes. But I think for me, it’s most fun when the really stupid jokes are in service of much larger conversations. 

Of course, there’s some obvious stuff to say about laughter. I mean—life is very difficult; talking about things is very difficult. And when we laugh, we release something and the orifices of our bodies are open—new things can happen. 

Also, there’s something in absurdity—one of the things I love about your art too. I feel like your work can be so fantastically absurd that it’s darling, it’s enchanting. It’s all these layers of things that are poetic and very often visually beautiful.

There’s also something very playful about montage and collage, because it’s about juxtaposition, suggesting relationships between things that aren’t necessarily there in real life. And humor can do that too. With little asides, you can join things that aren’t supposed to be together; you can be playful with language. 

I think of this sort of foolishness as a kind of queer defense strategy. If you’re funny, you can also be very disarming to people, like with this idea of “dazzle camouflage.” For instance, I work with Circus Amok, which is a one-ring outdoor traveling circus. We play in every park and garden all over New York City, and by centering queerness, by centering that which is so colorful and out and playful and extreme and into itself and feeling itself—we make queerness the center of the universe and everything else is moved to the margins.

Jenny Romaine, photograph by Daniel Terna, 2022

I think I really learned this from the circus and from Jennifer Miller—to sort of act like what’s out there is weird and what’s in here is what’s real. And because this practice is enchanted and uses live music and beautiful costumes and skills and talents and jokes and scaffolding, it creates an opportunity to assert many things that otherwise wouldn’t fly or land.

Another thing I think connects very much to the Holy Fool is carnival traditions. I’ve done a lot of work within the holiday of Purim where drama and costumes are central, and where there’s also a real scathing critique of the status quo. The name of God is never mentioned in the Megillah. It’s bawdy, it’s burlesque-y. But I think what I like about carnival, in general, is that it allows for what you fear most to emerge.

The point of masquerade, as my mentor Michael Manswell of Jouvay Fest sees it, is to ask the community, “What’s up? What needs to be spoken about?” And by using the grotesque and exaggeration and humor and sexuality, you can explore things publicly in a framework that can hold it, or where people are prepared to encounter and integrate it. And I think—it’s a state of mind, not a nation-state. 


I read something about you in an interview Anna Elena Torres did with a scholar from Philadelphia, Ezra Berkley Nepon. They were mentioning that the AIDS epidemic in New York in the 1980s and early ’90s was foundational for some of your work. Maybe you can speak a bit to that moment and its relation to what you’ve been doing since?


It’s interesting that you would say that, because my relationship to gay stuff in New York City probably started in 1978, going to the Duchess and going to lesbian bars in Greenwich Village, working at the WOW Café, and then getting engaged with these different political groups. I was in a lesbian feminist collective during that time, and going back further, as a child I was a dancer. So I was always in a gay world. By the time the ’90s arrived, I’d already lived decades of gay life, LGBTQ life—whatever you want to call it—in New York City.  

As a young person, I was a modern dancer and the dance world I inhabited was just the wrong fit for me. I was looking for something much more prismatic, postmodern, something much more engaged politically. The modern-dance world was operating in a very old paradigm, often worshiping dead people, dead modern-dance pioneers. And I was like, no, no, no. So anyway, I was introduced to Bread and Puppet Theater through Grace Paley—such a wonderful writer and smart person—who I knew through a political group we were a part of. She invited me to get involved, so that’s when I got activated in puppetry. And what’s so cool about puppetry, again—in relation to the Holy Fool—is that it’s music, movement, sculpture, and language in equal parts all the time. So language isn’t privileged; it’s there, but it’s not the only thing that’s going on.

I remember arriving at Theater for the New City to perform with my group, the Ninth Street Theater, named after our storefront on Ninth Street and Second Avenue. I remember (this is pre-AIDS) getting ready for the New City’s Halloween show, and there was Ethyl Eichelberger—this famous, wonderful drag artist, and just a great performer and singer—changing her clothes in the street.

And it was just . . . I don’t know. Being a young person, like eighteen years old, and looking over to see this drag queen kind of hung like a horse putting on her fishnet stockings, and her whole thing, and then playing the accordion and singing “Women Who Survive . . .” That was my life. That’s what it was like to be a young person in New York City in the theater world at that time. Then the AIDS thing really came up on us. There was life before that, and then it started to happen and it was a complete and total crisis—and a plague. I would say that my theater work didn’t reflect that reality as much as my activism did, and what I did with my time. I feel like I was still making other kinds of theater then.

What were we making? So much stuff in the ’80s and ’90s. Great Small Works was emerging. Also all these wars in the Gulf, and there was so much going on in the culture; there was a big shift, a neoliberal shift in the United States. We came out of the ’70s into these very corporate art structures and, you know, people didn’t use to have MFAs in the downtown scene. I would see Bloolips and I would see Split Britches and Hot Peaches and Spiderwoman Theater. There was just a lot of queer culture around. Then when people started getting sick . . . AIDS was part of the work because it was part of our life. It was the thing happening to our friends and our community. What work did I do about it? I think I mostly went to actions.


And the Yiddish work. When did the Yiddish theater work begin?


Good question. Definitely the ’80s—1987. It’s funny when you’re old; it’s like so much time! At the time, I was in this performance studies program at NYU with Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, who is an incredible Yiddishist. And I had never met anyone like her. She practiced equal parts art, critical theory, and folklore. We would walk down the street past a construction site and she would stop and look at it like it was the most theatrical thing you’d ever seen in your life. But she was also just as interested in how people set up their bodega windows to look like stained glass. She was the one who really helped me to see the aesthetics of everyday life, which was the title of a class I took of hers. So anyway, I won an essay contest and got to take a trip around the world with her and carry her bags. We went to all these different countries and it was very wild. We were doing field work and basically it was just about keeping up with Professor Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. But that’s how I got into the Yiddish stuff.

When I got back, she got me a job and I worked for her for a bit until a job opened up at the sound archive of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institut)—that’s how I got into the YIVO situation. But I wasn’t doing music there, I was a sound archivist working with the Yiddish language. I studied Yiddish very intensively during that time, and that’s how it started. Then, finally, this all entered my art. My theater group—it was called The Ideal—started doing a show about Rosa Luxemburg, actually. The piece was a Neo-Primitive opera about the life and times of Rosa Luxemburg.

So that was when I started bonding with the elder Polish people at the archive who talked about Rosa Luxemburg as a “failed revolutionary.” I’ll never forget Dr. Lucjan Dobroszycki, underground journalist of Lodz Poland . . . well, now I feel like I’m just blabbing.


No, no, no, not at all. So, would you say archival work is at the center of your Yiddish theater and performance work––that every production starts with an archive? I mean, with the Yiddish archive in a broad sense? Or not always?


I would say that is where I feel the reservoir of information lives. The archive is the relationship to the dead; the archive is the relationship to everything. I mean, there’s live stuff––there are all these different worlds. There’s the cosmic world and there’s the world that’s right in front of us. And then there’s this thing, this ocean. I guess I feel like it’s part of my body or part of the . . . I don’t even know what you would call it, the atmosphere? There is no conversation without it. But it’s not like I pointedly say, let me go into the archive and see what happens. It’s more like there’s a contradiction or an assignment and there’s a need to understand things. I guess it’s about history and—sometimes I feel a kind of obligation to the dead. Like I once did this show about a research fellow at YIVO named Nekhame Epshteyn who collected ten thousand jokes; that was her field work in Europe. She collected ten thousand Yiddish jokes, and then she perished during the war. But like, I don’t know—she collected ten thousand jokes! So, what do you do with all of them? Of course, jokes are only funny to people that understand the context, but to me it felt so important to honor her, to try and understand these jokes. 

So there’s this obligation to other Holy Fools too. And that’s the thing, because I do feel connected to the Yiddish tradition. I’m often looking for myself in it. And so I’ll elbow my way in. Like those traveling preachers who tell parables. There’s this one called “Truth in Gay Clothes,” where truth is walking around the world naked and nobody pays any attention. It’s like the parable is saying, “Hey, if you put on some good outfits and liven things up a bit, everyone’s going to listen to you.” So in my work, I’ve tried to be like the parable, the gay clothes

How about you and the archive?


I mean, definitely a lot of my projects are based on historical events, prior knowledge or prior effects. I don’t often do archival research from the beginning; sometimes I do, but often I work with studies already written by historians. I don’t work with primary sources as much as some other artists who deal with history or create projects on history.

So, I’m not as attached to the archive as some other artists. I’m not interested in aestheticizing the archive or making art about archives. Like you, I’m interested in contradictions or specific historical effects that don’t sit well, that don’t fit well, that are kind of strange, effects that—if you acknowledge them—shift your perceptions of how historical phenomena unfold. Approaching a creative research process or project in that way can provide insight into the prevailing macrohistorical narratives as well as the often concealed microhistorical narratives, and help clarify which is which.

In terms of my Jewish-related projects, I do a lot of work that has to do with Jewish history, but usually with a Soviet bent, and then a lot of work on queer history, but with either a kind of Soviet or Western communist bent. And among the Soviet Jewish stories, I’ve focused a lot on Birobidzhan, the Soviet Union’s Jewish Autonomous Region. The history of Birobidzhan and this idea of a Soviet Jewish Autonomous Region is very important to me. And it’s very queer in a way. It was such a crazy idea for the Soviet Far East, the Russian Far East—just out of nowhere—since there was no historical connection between that area and Jewish history. And so it also has something to do with this concept of holy foolishness. Because I think utopia is a land of Holy Fools, or of something related. 

So over the last twelve or thirteen years, I’ve done about five projects about Birobidzhan. The one that I want to talk about specifically is an exhibition called Pleshka-Birobidzhan. The term pleshka refers to a bald spot right on the top of someone’s head, but it’s also Russian slang for a gay cruising site. So I was playing with this idea, and then remembered how sometime in the early ‘90s, I heard a story from an older Russian gay guy. He was pretty intoxicated, and he was joking around, so I’m not sure whether he was making it up, or what. But he said that, in Moscow in the ‘60s, he’d heard a rumor circling around in gay circles about how when Birobidzhan—the Soviet Jewish Autonomous Region—was established in 1934, there was a group of Soviet gay men who went there. It wasn’t clear if they were Jewish or not Jewish, and anyways, Birobidzhan was not a totally Jewish project, because the idea was that the whole Soviet people––the multiethnic Soviet people––was creating a homeland for the Soviet Jewish people. So it was like a Soviet internationalist project, at least in some interpretations. 

Okay, but the funniest thing is that Birobidzhan was formed in 1934. And that’s the same year when male homosexuality was fully criminalized again in the Soviet Union, so that made for an interesting year, right? When there was a repression, and a kind of crackdown, on postrevolutionary Soviet gay culture in Moscow and Leningrad, and in other cities. But at the same time, a new territorial entity was being formed in the East—the possibility of a Soviet Jewish secular project. So as gay liberation closed down, Jewish liberation had maybe opened up. It was a historical coincidence, but logically, it does make sense. Because what I’ve heard is that a lot of gay people tried to leave Moscow and Leningrad around ‘34, to move to smaller cities away from the capital cities—so that they could keep a low profile and maybe wait out the waves of arrests and crackdowns.

So you can imagine people thinking: okay, there’s this new city, this new area, Birobidzhan, and nobody knows us there. We can move there. We can just be like proper Soviet internationalists and avoid repression. And actually, that was how a lot of people avoided repression in the Soviet Union—you would just move and they couldn’t keep up with you. It’s a big country; it’s not that easy to track someone down. So, yeah. My project was about trying to envision this version of Birobidzhan that is partially Jewish and partially queer; kind of a mixture of Soviet Jewish experience and Soviet gay experience, all togeher there in the Far East. In this version of Birobidzhan, you could have streets named after queer left-wing icons. You could have towns and villages named after queer Jewish and non-Jewish icons, historical personalities. And so that was the project.


Could you talk about the dance figure that appears in the collages in Pleshka-Birobidzhan? All the juxtapositions of the people with their first fruits, and then the dancer with all the grapes?


Well, the collages were created from two sets of images. One source was historical, archival photographs of Jews who moved to Birobidzhan, which were taken in the late 1920s or ‘30s. So the Jews appear there in Birobidzhan with the fruits of their agricultural labor, and so on. The second source was images of the so-called Russian Silver Age, which usually refers to the last decade of the nineteenth century, and the first decade or two of the twentieth century—before the Russian Revolution. During that period, there was a blossoming of this very Western-oriented, highbrow Russian culture: literature, ballet, opera, and so on. I would even say that it was higher than bourgeois culture, leaning more toward nobility-level Russian culture, and it was very queer. Especially the ballet culture, the set designs, the costume designs. 


Alexandra Exter?


Oh, no, I’m thinking more of people like Alexandre Benois, and Léon Bakst, who was actually Jewish, but kind of assimilated into Russian high culture. Some of the images I found of the so-called Silver Age might actually have been postrevolutionary and taken in the West; a lot of the Russian artists of that time fled after the revolution and worked in Paris for dance companies like Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes

So the collages in Pleshka-Birobidzhan are constructed from a juxtaposition of these two sources. They recreate and amplify the contradiction in a way. Because the Silver Age was notorious for its gay aesthetics or proto-gay aesthetics. I’m using those images as the closest thing I could get visually to Russian gay imagery from the early twentieth century, and pairing it with the imagery of the agricultural Jews arriving in Birobidzhan.


In this collage, there’s like an army of twenty Oscar Wildes walking in front of these revolutionary women. And they’re all in white and he’s in his black cape, and it’s multiples. It’s really beautiful! Very modernist. And what’s going on aesthetically in the work is just hilarious. It’s collage, but it’s also like hip-hop; you’re just remixing these materials, and all this pleasure comes from that. 

Pleshka-Birobidzhan #10, Yevgeniy Fiks, 2016

And I love what I’ve heard you say elsewhere about text and signage and tombstones. Can you talk about that? 


Well, in the Pleshka-Birobidzhan project, the street signage uses Yiddish characters, but not only Yiddish words; there is also, for example, Oscar Wilde Street. But that street sign is written in Yiddish for this fictional gay Jewish Birobidzhan. And then there’s a street named after Russian gay activists, for example, but in Yiddish. So the space is fully Jewish and fully gay; or it’s intersectional. It’s either overlapping or side by side. Both are valid for this Pleshka-Birobidzhan. There, towns and villages also have Yiddish names after queer left-wing icons, including Angela Davis, for example.


And Masha Gessen.


Right. Contemporary and past. 


And Harry Hay.


Yes. But there is also this one guy, his name is Nikolai Alexeyev, who’s notoriously antisemitic actually. Still, he’s also given a street in this Jewish gay Birobidzhan because of his contribution to gay rights in Russia, even though he’s flawed, he has this big downside. So, the icons are also controversial . . . 


One thing I love about the work is that you don’t force me––you don’t point my nose in it and tell me to laugh. It’s this delightful absurdity that is so pleasurable. I find it really funny, even though I know it’s not; there’s such violence behind so much of it. 

But tell me more about tombstones.


Ah yes, now I recall that you mentioned tombstones: an entry point to my own Jewish experience. 

I was born in 1972 and my parents were first-generation Russian speakers. They were born before World War II, in the mid-1930s, but they were already Russian. So they went through Russian elementary school and Russian middle school; they were totally Russified, and they both considered Russian their first language. But at the same time, my father, who was born in ‘35, tells me that when he was a two-year-old toddler, he was at the children’s hospital in Moscow and his mother was not with him. There were only nurses around, and he started asking for food in Yiddish. When my grandmother (his mother) came to visit him, the nurses were saying, “How come he asks for tei? Why is he asking for broyt? What is this?” And my grandmother said, “Just give him a cup of tea, give him a slice of bread.” So at the age of two, he was a Yiddish speaker, but he still doesn’t consider himself that way. He doesn’t think of himself as somebody whose first language was Yiddish because he can’t speak Yiddish anymore.


Where were your parents? Where did they come from? 


Moscow––my father was born in Moscow and my mother was born on the way from Ukraine to Moscow, in a smaller city called Murom. My grandparents all came from Ukraine and spoke Yiddish at home, always. So two grandparents on my mother’s side and two grandparents on my father’s side all spoke Yiddish among themselves into the 1970s. But other than that, there was a very limited presence of Jewish culture in my family. For example, we didn’t have Jewish books in the apartment, but we had tons of Russian-language books, multiple bookcases full of Russian literature. And I think there was one Sholem Aleichem book in Yiddish, which nobody read. I think my grandmother bought it maybe in the ‘60s. That’s it.

So, in terms of Yiddish or Hebrew or Jewish text or letters, I think tombstones were the only place I really saw them, where they were present. My grandfather died in ‘78, and since then, I’ve been going to the cemetery with my family. As a kid, that’s when I would see Yiddish or Hebrew letters written on the stones. And that was basically the only place I would see those scripts. In my grandmother’s apartment, I think there were a few religious books written in Hebrew or Yiddish, published in nineteenth-century Warsaw, but not in our apartment. So, tombstones and Jewish cemeteries—specifically the two cemeteries where my grandparents were buried––were really my only exposure to the physical presence of Jewish culture and Jewish text while growing up in the Soviet Union.

Continue to Part II

Yevgeniy Fiks was born in Moscow in 1972 and has lived and worked in New York since 1994. As a “post-Soviet artist,” his works build on research into Cold War narratives to explore the dialectic between Communism and “the West,” addressing the Red and Lavender Scares during the McCarthy era, Communism in Modern Art, as well as African, African-American, and Jewish diasporas in the Soviet Union. His art books include Lenin for Your Library? (ANTEPROJECTS), Communist Guide to New York City (Common Books), Moscow (UDP), Soviet Moscow’s Yiddish-Gay Dictionary (Cicada Press), and Monument to Cold War Victory (The Cooper Union). His work has been shown at the Biennale of Sydney, the Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, and the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, and has received reviews in the New York Times, Artforum, and other periodicals.

Jenny Romaine is a director, designer, and puppeteer, as well as co-artistic director of the OBIE Award–winning Great Small Works visual-theater collective. She is the music director of Jennifer Miller’s Circus Amok and artist-in-residence at Milk Not Jails and Inside Change. With Great Small Works, Romaine performs, teaches, and directs in theaters, schools, parks, libraries, museums, prisons, street corners, and other public spaces—producing work on many scales, from gigantic outdoor spectacles with scores of participants, to miniature shows in living rooms. She has directed and designed community-based spectacles for projects in New York City and around the world. Romaine was a sound archivist at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research for thirteen years, and for several decades, she has drawn on Yiddish and pan-Jewish primary source materials to create art that has contemporary meaning. 

Her projects include Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls, a Great Small Works production; The Sukkes Mob (featured in the film Punk Jews); community Purim shpiels with the Aftselakhis Spectacle Committee in cahoots with JFREJ; The Revival of the Uzda Gravediggers with Geoff Berner, Sadie Gold-Shapiro, and Belarusian poets Siarhej Chareuski and Maryia Martysevich; Vu Bistu Geven? / Where Have You Been?, a Quebec-based adventure parable that asks questions about diasporic Jewish relationships to land; and “Bobe Mayses”—Yiddish Knights and Other Impossibilities with the Other Music Academy (Weimar/Berlin).

Romaine’s work is made possible by and conducted in partnership with Building Stories Studio, Simone Lucas, Mary Feaster, Yiddish New York, KlezKanada, the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene, Rosza Daniel Lang/Levitsky, Ira Khonen Temple, Jessica Lurie, Daniel Majesty Sanchez (z”l), Boxcutter Collective, Tine Kindermann, Frank London, Eleonor Weil, Jewlia Eisenberg, Hadar Ahuvia, Elana June Margolis, the Wallis Annenberg Helix Fellowship, Rachel Schragis, JVP, Fihi Ma Fihi Productions, and more!

Romaine was the first recipient of the Adrienne Cooper Dreaming in Yiddish Award (2014), received a Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Award from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (2015), and is featured in Dazzle Camouflage: Spectacular Theatrical Strategies for Resistance and Resilience, a monograph by Ezra Berkley Nepon. In pandemic times, Romaine has co-anchored the Naming The Lost Memorials Project.