Set at a bus stop in the middle of Perth’s most exclusive suburbs, otherwise known as the Golden Triangle, 107 follows four high school students through their experiences with family, sexuality, identity and the trauma of private school.
Expressed through the medium of a punk-rock musical comedy, 107 is a new work from Thai-Australian writer Michele Gould and is directed by Daley Rangi.
With a show description which teases an amalgamation of The Breakfast Club and Spring Awakening, 107 certainly piqued this musical theatre nerd’s interest. To learn more, I sent Michele a few questions ahead of the show’s opening at The Blue Room Theatre on Jan 27.
What inspired this story? And how did it first manifest, with music or script?
I just thought “what if Spring Awakening was about lesbians.” 107 is a fun, feminist, angsty and queer punk rock musical comedy with an entirely diverse cast of private school students. It unpacks mental health, toxic masculinity, racial microaggressions and celebrates the compassion and bravery of young women.
The opening number was probably the first finished part of the show. It’s sarcastic but hopeful, plays into a ‘traditional’ musical theatre sound whilst still being punk-rock. It’s crude and funny and all-round a good time. It really set the tone for the rest of the work.
Can you tell us about the four main characters and how their stories interconnect?
Each character has been written to capture a stereotype about how young women are represented in the media, so that we can then flip those stereotypes on their heads (whilst also flipping them off). We’re trying to say “screw you for putting us in boxes, we’re getting out of here, kicking and screaming”. The ‘nerd’ isn’t as soft spoken and sweet as she appears, the ‘rebel’ isn’t as hard as she’s made out to be, the ‘theatre kid’ has way more depth than she lets on and the ‘popular girl’ may be carrying the heaviest baggage. I wanted to honour the real people that inspired these characters, the complexities and sheer brilliance of my friends who colour my life and make me so happy to be here.
107 cast. Photography: Ruby Short
What do the experiences of these characters tell us about the private school system?
This show takes a huge dig at the Australian private school system and its impact on the minds and hearts of young people. It is the brain dump of my personal frustrations with the system and the memories that I share with my best friends. It is something I wished I could have seen when I was at that stage of figuring everything out, and we’ve all shared similar sentiments within the cast and crew.
What this show is trying to say is that institutions can depersonalise us, which rob us of the best parts of us. Each character is an integral part of the story because of everything that makes them who they are. I feel the same way about people in real life. I hope that audiences get to take that away from the show when they see it.
107 cast. Photography: Michele Gould
Daley Rangi is directing the piece, how are they interpreting the work?
Working with Daley is a dream. We first connected by sharing each other’s works as curious writers, but their genuine excitement and support for the show set everything in motion. We both have a very similar “less is more” approach to creative projects, and the understanding that if a story (at its core) isn’t up to scratch, then adding big dance numbers and fireworks aren’t going to save it. Most importantly though, their emphasis on cultural and personal safety in the room has really made the space what it is. We get to do something so important, whilst having so much fun, and it’s really something special.
What track from 107 do you think will be an audience fave? What will people get stuck in their heads?
No spoilers, but there are a few surprises musically in store for audiences! One track I love (and you can hear ahead of the show!) is Patience. Super catchy ear-worm track to play on repeat.
Who should see this show?
If high school was definitely not the best years of your life, this show is for you. This show is SO fun, and we tackle the racist and sexist bullshit young women deal with square on. But we don’t want anyone to have to relive trauma. This show is a celebration for all those people who didn’t have a great time in highschool and had step into adulthood without any preparation or idea of what’s going on. You made it, you rockstar, so rock out with us.
107 runs from the 27th of Jan to the 5th of Feb at The Blue Room Theatre.