Writer/ Performer Yang-May Ooi shares an extract from her new book, Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes. The manuscript has just been submitted to publisher Urbane Publications and will be available in bookshops and online in early November.
I was very pleased at the weekend to be able to put the finishing touches to the manuscript of Bound Feet Blues, the book and to dispatch it to Matthew Smith, my publisher at Urbane Publications.
As I celebrated with some bubbly with my partner, I reflected on how taking of my shoes and going barefoot transformed the stage version of Bound Feet Blues from a long form style of storytelling into a dramatic performance.
I write about that moment in the book so what better way to share my reflections here than with an extract…
I began to go through the scenes of Bound Feet Blues. The sexy walking in the opening moments became sexier. In the scene when I am eight, I suddenly took off half running, half skipping round the dining room – my whole body expressed the gangly movements of a little girl. As the bound foot mother, I stood with most of my weight on one foot, my body twisted sideways, evoking an unstable, feminine shape that was rooted to a single spot. Back as ten year old tomboy me, I raced around with an imaginary rifle shooting at the “audience” and then break into a kung fu kick, howling a Bruce Lee howl. At the climax of the last scene so far, I fall to my knees in despair.
The simple act of taking off my shoes had changed everything.
Had changed me.
The chapters of the book are named after shoes and bound feet and follow the shape of the stage version and explores the stories behind the story told in the theatre piece. Here is the list of chapter headings:
A NEW JOURNEY
The shoes reflect my sense of who I was at different times in my life and my aim in the book is to discuss shoes as a metaphor for identity, not just for me but for women in our culture generally. So going barefoot is in itself a metaphor for stripping down to my authentic self in the performance.