The complete one hour solo performance Bound Feet Blues is now available on YouTube [video]

We are delighted to share the video of the complete one hour solo performance of Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes. It is now up online on YouTube. So if you didn’t manage to get tickets for the live show – or if you did see the show on stage and would like a reprise – here it is for everyone to enjoy.

~~

The show run is now over but you can  BUY BOUND FEET BLUES, THE BOOK – please click on the links below:

AMAZON.CO.UK

AMAZON.COM

URBANE PUBLICATIONS

Advertisements

How we perform our selves in every day life [Bound Feet Blues, the BOOK]

Bound Feet Blues, the BOOK, explores the theme of performance in theatre and in our every day lives, using the metaphor of bound feet and fashion. Writer/ performer and author of the book, Yang-May Ooi, explains why performance fascinates her.

Yang-May writes:

Bound Feet Blues, my memoir in book form, opens at my first staged performance of the theatre version of the Bound Feet Blues story. The first chapter describes what it felt like for me to step out in front of an audience under the spotlights to perform the story of my family and my own life.

That first performance at Conway Hall described in the book was captured on video – highlights below:

Acting and Authenticity

We sometimes mistake performance or acting as inauthentic. We think that acting means pretending to be someone that we are not. Of course that is factually true when actors play a fictional role or are portraying a real person on film or in a play but even then actors always seek to be real and honest in the emotions that they depict. For me, portraying myself and my family on stage, it was deeply important to be authentic to my own story and also theirs. The emotions and story I portrayed were real and truthful within the frame of the drama.

The experience of that performance made me reflect on the performance of my self over the last few decades.

“Performing” My Life

In the book, Bound Feet Blues, I write about how I “performed” the role of a Bright Young Thing in my student days in Oxford, going to balls and dressing as a beautiful “China Doll”. Later, I “performed” the role of a high-achieving lawyer in London in the yuppy atmosphere of the ’80s. When I came out, I “performed” as a boyish lesbian in baggy chinos and lace ups. It was only after all this experimentation that I finally came to be able to express who I really am – a mix of feminine and masculine, sometimes high powered, sometimes slobby and lazy, sometimes beautifully dressed, sometimes not.

Yang-May Ooi at Pride “performing” the tomboy self. This photo is one of many in her book, Bound Feet Blues

How do you “perform” different aspects of your character?

We all perform who we are to some extent. Think about how you show Continue reading

How Yang-May Ooi’s great grandmother with bound feet inspired Bound Feet Blues [video]

In the  video below, writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi tells the story of her great-grandmother that inspired her to write Bound Feet Blues.

Yang-May writes:

The show was only one hour long so I made certain artistic choices in portraying my great-grandmother in the theatre performance. Her story is incomplete in the show because I wanted the audience to stay with the moment of transformation rather than seeing how her story ends.

The book of Bound Feet Blues takes great-grandma’s story and extends and deepens it at the more leisurely pace that a long read can offer. So for those of you who Continue reading

It’s the last night of Bound Feet Blues – but the stories will live on in the BOOK!

Tonight is the last night of writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi’s solo performance of the stage work Bound Feet Blues! But the story does not end here – the book Bound Feet Blues (now available, published by Urbane Publications) will continue the legacy of this astonishing creative work. The BOOK contains the full script of the show PLUS the stories that Yang-May could not fit in to the hour long show.

** Bound Feet Blues is on at the Tristan Bates Theatre for one more show only – tonight Sat 12 December 2015. Don’t miss this “mesmerising” and “powerful” show – there may be some tickets left or as returns so you can  buy tickets below or via bit.ly/bfbtickets **

Rehearsal – Aunty Diana’s tells her story

To conclude our daily blog on the show, here are some highlights from reviews and audience feedback:

“Bound Feet Blues is a warm, funny and groundbreaking exploration of women’s expectations, concerns and desires. With deft strokes, renowned storyteller Yang-May paints a nuanced picture of her coming-out (too-new hiking boots), explores Chinese-Malaysian culture (bare feet, bound feet) and considers the span of generations and mother-daughter-relationships. Her voice is a honed musical instrument, and her performance – a blend of voice and movement – feels like a generous gift.” – Mooky Chick

Performance – “.. I step off into air”

“It was genuinely one of the most moving, engaging and intimate shows I’ve ever seen in a theatre. By coincidence, the previous evening, my wife and I went to see The Winter’s Tale, with Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench; but of the two, Bound Feet Blues was by far the more rewarding and memorable experience!”

“I loved your physicality and performance. The piece was beautifully written – complex, moving, so many layers.”

~~

BUY THE BOOK from Urbane Publications’ website and use the discount code ‘shoes‘ for 25% off the RRP

Introducing the world of Bound Feet Blues: Going to a ball at Oxford

Bound Feet Blues takes the audience on a journey across Europe, Asia and Australia to tell the stories in writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi’s family and in her own life. We will be giving you a snapshot of these landscapes here on this blog over the next few weeks.

Today, Oxford.

Bound Feet Blues opens with a beautiful young woman walking along Oxford’s High Street  to a summer ball in stiletto shoes…

Here are some photos of the beautiful university city of Oxford and its gorgeous summer balls…

 

from flickr.com, thanks to Jessica Keating Photography – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jessandinca/ (CCL)

 

from flickr.com thanks to Queens Ball 2010 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/queens2010/ (CCL)

Bound Feet Blues: “young men in black tie and us girls in our beautiful ball dresses” – writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi, aged 20, with “Josh” on the night of the ball

Continue reading

Yang-May Ooi, writer and performer of Bound Feet Blues, talks about the power of storytelling and writing from personal experience [video]

Yang-May Ooi, writer/ performer of Bound Feet Blues talks about the inspiration behind her extra-ordinary solo story performance and the memoir accompanying the theatre piece.

~~

You can buy tickets for Bound Feet Blues via bit.ly/bfbtickets

DETAILS

Tristan Bates Theatre
1A Tower St, Covent Garden WC2H 9NP

Tue 24 Nov – Sat 12 Dec, Tue – Sat at 7.30pm.
Tickets £16 / £12 concessions.
Q&As post-show, 27 Nov & 4 Dec.

Introducing the world of Bound Feet Blues: the Australian Outback

Bound Feet Blues is a solo theatre performance – but on an epic scale. Writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi takes the audience across continents from Asia to Europe and Australia. We’ll be sharing with you the landscapes of Bound Feet Blues here on this blog over the next few weeks. Today, the vast desert scenery of the Australian Outback.

In Bound Feet Blues, the open skies and vast desert of Australia gives Yang-May’s younger self a freedom she never had in the narrower landscapes of London and Oxford…

Australian Outback – Photo from flickr.com, thanks to Mark Wassell – https://www.flickr.com/photos/61520356@N07/ (CCL0

Uluru – once known as Ayers Rock . From flickr.com, thanks to Rita Willaert – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rietje/ (CCL)

A pivotal moment in Bound Feet Blues occurs on the precipice at Kings Canyon, Australia – photo from flickr.com thanks to Los viajes del Cangrejo – https://www.flickr.com/photos/viajescangrejo/ (CCL)

 

Continue reading

For National Coming Out Day, read a FREE extract from Yang-May Ooi’s coming out story as told in her memoir Bound Feet Blues, the book

To celebrate National Coming Out Day tomorrow, Sunday 11 Oct, writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi shares an extract from her memoir Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes, the book that is inspired by her solo theatre piece of the same name. Bound Feet Blues is as much about Yang-May’s journey to discovering her sexual identity as it is the story of the women in her family. 

Here is the extract from the chapter entitled “Biker Boots” from the book, Bound Feet Blues:

Coming out is a rite of passage.

In the world of debutantes and high society, it is an ancient tradition going back generations. When a young woman comes of age, she is invited to a coming out ball to introduce her to society – and  in the aristocratic classes in Britain, to present her to the monarch. It is her “debut” into the world as an adult – or, rather, as a fertile virgin of a marriagable age. This custom continues to this day among the elite not just in Britain but also, surprisingly, in the ideally classless societies of Australia and the United States.

The coming out ball is the moment when high society gathers to view the future of their dynasties. Debutantes customarily wear white ball gowns, sometimes with long white Cinderella gloves and sometimes with tiaras or both.  If you Google images of  “debutante ball coming out”, you will see that the styles of the ball dresses have changed little since Victorian times and often the young women are indistinguishable from each other in their demure, beautiful uniforms. The eligible young bachelors gather round them in white tie and tails and suddenly, we are back in the world of Jane Austen and Downton Abbey and fairy tale princesses.

For a young woman in that society, to come out is to emerge from Continue reading

Do our shoes shape who we are? [video] – Yang-May Ooi, writer/ performer of Bound Feet Blues, thinks so

Yang-May Ooi, writer/ performer of Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes, talks about how shoes and bound feet in her extra-ordinary theatre piece are a metaphor for who we are – and who we long to be.

Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes is a solo story performance written and performed by Yang-May Ooi and directed by Jessica Higgs. A memoir of the same name by Yang-May Ooi is also being published.

ABOUT THE SHOW
In an epic journey from China via East Asia and Australia to England, British-Malaysian writer-performer Yang-May Ooi explores female empowerment and desirability through the oral histories of three generations of her family and the shoes in her life. Yang-May uses the ancient Chinese tradition of footbinding experienced by Continue reading

Footbinding could have been stopped 400 years early

Bound Feet Blues – the Book continues apace. I am now 42,000+ words in as the fourth chapter builds up its word count. This chapter is entitled “Lotus Feet” and expands on the scenes in the show that dramatize the history of footbinding and the painful process of a mother binding her daughter’s feet.

I can finally share a lot of the research I did for the show but which could not be squeezed into the 25 page script that makes up the one hour long show. It has been very satisfying writing away over the last few weeks, gathering it all together in a coherent way so that those interested in the themes of the show have the chance to learn more about the details and history of this brutal yet macabrely alluring practice.

Here are the last few paragraphs I have written so far;

In 1644, the new emperor of China and the progenitor of the Ming dynasty, a Manchurian who had taken power by violence and invasion, banned footbinding. It was part of a set of laws that dictated what the Chinese people wore, mandating queues for men and the Manchu-style tunic with its high Mandarin collar for both sexes. While those latter laws came to be obeyed and over the centuries even evolved into symbols of Chinese identity, footbinding continued for almost four hundred more years.

 It is a testament to the will and defiance of generations of women.

 Manchu women did not have bound feet. But the allure of the tiny bound foot was so powerful that over time, even they wanted to have dainty little feet. I believe that some Manchu women bound their feet and their daughter’s feet. Others wore a version of high heels that gave the impression of tiny feet beneath their long gowns.

These Manchu shoes sat on top of a small pedestal that acted like short stilts at the centre of the sole. The slightly wider pedestal base acted as the surrogate foot, while the real foot in all its hugeness was balanced a few inches above, hidden from view. These stilts would have made walking precarious and would have required Continue reading