I’ve made a start on the book version of Bound Feet Blues and I’m pleased to say I have the first 5,153 words.
The script of Bound Feet Blues is only 25 pages and runs to a one hour show. That meant that I had to edit down the stories and simplify it all in order to create a story that works as an oral story and a theatre piece. The book will tell “The Stories Behind The Story”, expanding on and deepening the stories that are in the show.
The book will be framed by the scratch night performance that I tried out at Conway Hall in March this year. This was my first attempt at presenting the piece to a live audience and was made up of 45 minutes of a rough draft of the incomplete material. The book will follow my journey as a writer and performer trying to develop the memoir that would eventually become Bound Feet Blues, the show, alongside the journey of the actual story within the show.
Why this structure?
Well, I tried for many years to write the stories of my family, my heritage and my own personal life as a conventional memoir and that did not work. Bound Feet Blues works because it is a live dramatised story performance. So I want to honour the oral storytelling out of which the show evolved by writing a book that is an UNconventional memoir and that has the feel of Continue reading
I went in to the BBC London Live studios on 16 Oct to chat with the delightful Jo Good about my novels The Flame Tree and Mindgame and also Bound Feet Blues.
In case you missed it, here is the interview again. It runs for about 20 mins. Click on the image below and an audio player will open up.
Or, you can click on this link – https://app.box.com/s/n5kxj3szaric1d03r8qi
The reviews are out for the Bound Feet Blues showcase performance on Monday night – and the show has been given 4+ Stars. As you can imagine, I am delighted!
The Public Reviews, UK
The theatre review online magazine The Public Reviews gave Bound Feet Blues a 4.5 star rating (out of 5 stars) and described the show as “powerful” and “beautifully performed and directed”. Read the review by Nichola Daunton: “Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes – Tristan Bates Theatre” (14 Oct 2014).
“With a tiny three inch foot being the ideal size and the process of binding and bone breaking beginning at the age of four, Yang-May’s performance as the mother of a small child who is just beginning the process is very powerful. The fact that Yang-May performs bare foot throughout the piece is also an interesting choice and is used to good effect to highlight both her restriction and her freedom as she discovers the person she is meant to be.”
Everything Theatre, UK
This theatre review site which bills itself as the “honest and unpretentious guide to the London theatre scene”, gave Bound Feet Blues a 4 star review (out of 5). It described the show as “Engaging, eye-opening, funny and moving” and summed it up in one word: “Excellent” Read Hanna Gilbert’s review: Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes, Tristan Bates Theatre. (16 Oct 2014)
“Ooi gives a truly fantastic performance, taking on Continue reading
These photos were taken at a rehearsal the week before the Bound Feet Blues showcase performance. They show me in various scenes from the show, and discussing the script with director Jessica Higgs.
The photos were taken by the brilliant Claudia Rocha
The iconic pose showing my left hand as a bound foot “The Golden Lotus”
Discussing the script with director Jessica Higgs
Two more photos below – Continue reading
Here’s a short video interview of me talking about the inspirations behind Bound Feet Blues and the challenges of bringing it to the stage.
It was filmed just after the Heritage Panel that I took part in, discussing the role of heritage in South East Asian Performance with Anna Nguyen of Trikhon Theatre and Elaine Foo of TrueHeart Theatre.
There’s also a short snippet of me performing a scene from the show for the audience at the Heritage Panel.
We have just finalised the programme for the upcoming showcase performance on Mon and I thought I’d share it with you. Click on the image below and the programme will open up in a reading pane.
The direct link to the programme is at https://app.box.com/s/uyt1pds75o3dapi6zuam
For those of you who are coming to the show – see you there!
For those who were too late to buy tickets – we hope to bring a full production to fruition in 2015 with a 2-3 week run so stay tuned…!
Here is my interview on Radio Verulam – click on the link below and a player will open up:
Yang-May Ooi on Radio Verulam
It’s about 15 mins long. Enjoy!
I am thrilled that the brilliant Beverley Glick has agreed to chair the Q&A after the showcase performance of Bound Feet Blues on Mon 13 Oct at the Tristan Bates Theatre.
Beverley is an award-winning speaker and “story archaeologist” who works with individuals and businesses to find their authentic stories. She is the co-founder of the cult storytelling club The Story Party where I started my storytelling adventure that led me to create Bound Feet Blues.
I got to know Beverley a couple of years ago from a public speaking course we both took part in and since then, I’ve seen her working with Continue reading
Bound Feet Blues is as much about my own personal coming out story as it is about the story of great-grandmother with bound feet. Footbinding in the show is a metaphor for the binding up of who we really are, of our natural selves, in order to fit into an social construct of what a woman should be.
The story also explores how I used to be a tomboy and what that meant for me in terms of freedom vs constraint, power vs restriction, heartfelt love vs pretending to be someone I was not. For me, coming out was the ultimate act of unbinding and personal empowerment – signified by the freedom to wear whatever I choose, whether fully female or male attire or an androgynous combination of both….
This vintage photo shows two Japanese women, one in female clothing, the other in man’s clothes. I’ve not been able to Continue reading
I perform Bound Feet Blues without any costumes or props – or even any shoes. My aim is to invite the audience to experience the show in the way that we have all experienced stories being told to us when we were children – that is, by co-creating the characters, events and landscapes in our imaginations.
I use my left hand to map the process of footbinding – it starts off as a normal “foot” and is steadily contorted and “broken” into the twisted shape that you see in the photo below. For comparison, I’ve also found a photo of an actual bound foot – also below.
This performance photo was taken at the scratch night in March at Conway Hall.
The most prized foot was called “the golden lotus” – it was Continue reading