Performing Arts

A childhood in Europe taught director Skye Whitcomb to love the arts

EXPOSED TO ARTS ‘VERY VERY YOUNG’: Skye Whitcomb, artistic director of Outré Theatre, grew up sampling world culture in a military family.
EXPOSED TO ARTS ‘VERY VERY YOUNG’: Skye Whitcomb, artistic director of Outré Theatre, grew up sampling world culture in a military family.

Skye Whitcomb’s early life was spent on the move as part of a military family. But for the artistic director of Outré Theatre Company, which now makes its home in the Abdo New River Room at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, that was a good thing.

“I was exposed to the arts very, very young. My parents filled the house with literature and plays and film and music,” Whitcomb says. “We lived in Europe. I was 7 or 8, and I was exposed to some of the greatest artwork, to the love of beauty and creation.”

When the family finally settled in Huntsville, Alabama, Whitcomb went to an arts magnet school where he studied creative writing, poetry, music, architecture and the art form that would captivate him — theater. His influential teacher Ron Harris awakened his appreciation for creating “an entirely new world, then sharing it with somebody else,” he says.

But his parents, Gary and Susan, who taught him to appreciate art, thought that the arts world wouldn’t give their son a solid career. So Whitcomb earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, specializing in theater and literature. Currently, in addition to running Outré with managing director Sabrina Lynn Gore, he teaches literature at Yeshiva High School in Boca Raton.

Though he has acted at Outré and several other South Florida companies (he played the title role in Macbeth for Shakespeare Miami), Whitcomb mainly directs and is staging Outré’s bold season opener, Polly Pen and Laurence Klavan’s “silent movie opera” Bed and Sofa. Based on the 1927 Soviet silent film Tretya meshchanskaya by Abram Room, the daring chamber musical tells the story of stonemason Kolya (Elvin Negron), his wife, Ludmilla (Rebeca Diaz), and Kolya’s army pal Volodya (Noah Levine), who sleeps on the sofa of their tiny apartment while he’s looking for work. When Kolya leaves Moscow for three weeks, things heat up between Ludmilla and Volodya, so much so that when Kolya comes home he finds he’s the one expected to sleep on the sofa.

For Whitcomb, the piece has the challenging ideas and depth of the theater that excites him — an excitement awakened by his parents.

“It has such strong ideas about women’s sexuality, abortion, women’s place in society,” the director says. “It has a lot of humor to it, but at the same time, it’s poignant and moving.”

Outré’s ‘Bed and Sofa’ is in the Abdo New River Room at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, from Friday through Sept. 13. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $30. Call 954-462-0222 or visit www.browardcenter.org or www.outretheatrecompany.com.

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