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 an orally told story, where the presence of the storyteller herself is an integral part of the work.
To give you a flavour of that frame, here are the first few paragraphs of the Prologue:
QUOTE: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Lao Tzu
26 March 2014, Conway Hall, London.
I stepped out into the performance hall from behind the heavy wooden doors. I was still in shadow but the audience had sensed my entrance. There was an alertness now in the hall as they peered towards me in the gloom.
A blaze of light waited in the middle of the darkness a few steps away. Four powerful cross beams shafted down onto the performance floor from the theatre spotlights high above. The emptiness of the space seemed vast and exposed.
An emptiness waiting for me.
Even as my mind raced – taking in the empty performance floor, the dark shapes of bodies waiting in the audience, the specks of dust floating in the beams of light, the music fading out – my feet were already moving me towards the moment of beginning.
That night at Conway Hall changed my life as a creative artist.
By framing the journey in the book with the Conway Hall scratch night, my aim is to lay the groundwork for a second book which will take us beyond that night – following the creative path that has led me to this moment now as I write this blog post and forward towards developing the full production of the show next year.
I hope you’ll come along with me for what I sense may be a unconventional journey…
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.