Neon Lights 2016

Punks share stories in musical

Punk collective The Scene Kids will be performing on Nov 26 and 27.
Punk collective The Scene Kids will be performing on Nov 26 and 27. PHOTOS: NEON LIGHTS

A musical is probably not where you would expect to learn about punk subculture in Singapore, but an upcoming production wishes to smash some artistic boundaries and preconceptions about the scene here.

Called Holding The Fort, the punk musical is "punk music, spoken word and physical theatre all coming together", says the production's director Tan Liting, 29, a theatre practitioner.

The 45-minute musical is performed by The Scene Kids, a collective of 10 individuals ranging in age from 19 to 34 with a common passion for the subculture.

All the material for the production is written collectively by the group, including the musical numbers and the script, which feature intimate stories about the scene here.

These accounts include tales of people leaving the punk community for various reasons including to make a living or "growing up". There are stories on gender discrimination too, as punk is still seen as a male-centric subculture.

The show will run on both days of Neon Lights at The Nest stage at 6.45pm on Nov 26 and 6.50pm on Nov 27.

Holding The Fort hopes to also challenge various stereotypes about the subculture.

For one, they don't all wear "studs, leather jackets and boots", says Tan.

"Take the person standing in the MRT next to you. He might be into punk, but you might not know it looking at his regular office wear."

Musically, the score is also varied in style. Tan says people get the impression that punk music is "one big monolith of heavy guitars, bass and drums".

"There are other sub-genres mixed in too, such as metal, ska and elements of reggae and hip-hop".

One of the performers, artist Shaiful Risan, 34, hopes that the audiences will come away with a "deeper understanding of sub- cultures in Singapore".

"We are all part of the social sphere and not just token social rejects."

In reference to the musical's title Holding The Fort, Tan says one of the biggest issues facing the punk community in Singapore is the loss of spaces to hang out due to gentrification, including The Substation.

On the way punks adapt to change, Tan says: "The beauty of this is that punk will never die and even if you try to evict them, we find new spaces to come together and be creative."

Gurveen Kaur

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2016, with the headline 'Punks share stories in musical'. Print Edition | Subscribe