My solo show Bound Feet Blues asks the question: how do we as individuals, and as women, live authentic lives true to ourselves within a dominant culture that seeks to control our bodies and our spirit? Foot binding in ancient China broke a woman’s body physically – but also broke her spirit over the course of the many years it would take to create the perfect tiny foot. What dominant cultural traditions in our modern era play a similar controlling role in who and what we can be?
I’ve just received the proofs of the e-book of my second novel, Mindgame, the first and only lesbian Malaysian thriller. It is soon to be re-issued by Monsoon Books and I am now reading through the proofs – all 450+ pages of the book – to check it before publication. On re-reading the book, I see that this same theme that I explore in Bound Feet Blues also runs through this thriller.
Take a look at this screenshot of a couple of paragraphs from the thriller:
In Mindgame, London and Malaysia are physical landscapes – but also metaphorical ones. Similarly, in Bound Feet Blues, the different places that I conjure up in the show underscore the shifting emotional dramas being played out.
In the thriller, the tension between the individual and the dominant cultural tradition is played out between the heroine Fei and the Asian Values Alliance. The AVA is a powerful organisation that spans across Asia with the intention of imposing its extremist values across the region. Fei finds herself entangled in their net and must choose whether she defines her own identity at the risk to her life or whether she submits ypto their dominant values. In Bound Feet Blues, I explore this same tension but within a smaller, more intimate setting through the family relationships portrayed in the show.
It’s a curious thing, I must say. I was not aware that I was exploring these same issues now as I did back when I wrote Mindgame, only in a different genre. It was only when I started reading the novel this morning that the similarities struck me!
Photo 2: screenshot of Mindgame from my own archive
Yang-May Ooi is an award-winning TEDx speaker, bestselling author and story performer. Her work uses the power of personal narrative to inspire women to develop authentic confidence and become collaborative leaders. She is currently rehearsing a one woman story performance, Bound Feet Blues, which will be showcased in London’s West End in Oct 2014.