Smashing stereotypical portrayals of East Asian women in books and theatre [video]

Yang-May Ooi, writer/ performer of Bound Feet Blues spoke at the launch of the Anglo Asiatic Arts & Heritage Alliance launch in April about “Tiger Spirit Women” – dynamic, intelligent, independent and fierce East Asian women who are the anti-thesis of the stereotypical portrayal of them in books and theatre in Western culture.

Yang-May says: “My creative work is dedicated to smashing the stereotype of the docile, passive China-doll like East Asian woman who exists solely in the domestic sphere and to portraying us as we really are – active agents taking our place in the world, capable, empowered and forces to be reckoned with.”

In her talk, she discusses her two novels, The Flame Tree and Mindgame, and Bound Feet Blues as well as her new theatre and book project Butterfly in Blue Jeans.

You can watch her whole talk in this video below (approx 8 mins):

~~

You can  BUY BOUND FEET BLUES, THE BOOK – please click on the links below:

AMAZON.CO.UK

AMAZON.COM

URBANE PUBLICATIONS 

Bound Feet Blues opens tonight for 3 weeks – Buy tickets here!

Writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi and the creative team are at the theatre right now working on the final preparations for opening night tonight. There is the final dress rehearsal, the technical lighting run through and making sure the set is just right.

Then, finally, after almost of a year of preparation, Bound Feet Blues will open as a full production tonight at 7.30pm at Tristan Bates Theatre for a 3 week run. The house lights will go down and as a haunting fusion ballad of East and West plays, Yang-May will step onto the stage to perform the work she wrote almost two years ago….

Have you got your tickets yet?

Go to the bottom of this page for the link to the box office or go straight to buy tickets via bit.ly/bfbtickets

There’s still an outside chance that there will be tickets left for opening night tonight – but if not, the show runs for 3 weeks to 12 Dec. So there’s still time to get your tickets to catch this extra-ordinary solo show.

Watch the highlights from the showcase performance in Oct last year:

 

~~

BUY TICKETS

**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.

**BUY ONLINE via: bit.ly/bfbtickets **

Meet Papergang Theatre, Bound Feet Blues partner at Tristan Bates Theatre as part of the South East Asian Arts Festival

We have invited Papergang Theatre to share our theatre space at Tristan Bates Theatre as both Bound Feet Blues and Papergang are taking part in the South East Asian Arts Festival (SEA Arts Fest). Papergang will be producing three Papergang matinees of play readings by East Asian playwrights during the Bound Feet Blues run – the Bound Feet Blues team are delighted to be able to support new East Asian writing in this way.

Papergang Theatre

Papergang webpage - screenshot

Papergang Theatre was formed by graduates of the Royal Court Unheard Voices programme, which develops writers from ethnic minorities. “Our mission is to create theatre work that reflects the multi-cultural society we live in, bringing contemporary voices from our community into the mainstream.

At Papergang, we know that a writer can only realise their full potential if their work is produced and has a life beyond the page. We are a theatre company led by a diverse range of Continue reading

Photos and Write Up from Papergang Theatre’s Echo Night at the Bush Theatre – incl Bound Feet Blues extract

Writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi was invited to perform an extract of Bound Feet Blues at the Echo event of East Asian performers at the Bush Theatre, hosted by Papergang Theatre back in October. Here are some photos from the night – and also a write up by Papergang on their blog.

Yang-May writes: “It was great fun – and also a privilege to be performing alongside so many talented East Asian artists. Thank you to Papergang Theatre for inviting me to show an extract from Bound Feet Blues. The audience were warm and enthusiastic – some of them said the character of my Mum that I played reminded them of their old aunties from Malaysia! I am delighted!”

With the other performers on the night, and Papergang Theatre founders Simon Ly and Clarissa Wylde (extreme left) Photo credit: Papergang Theatre

Performing “Some Enchanted Evening” extract from Bound Feet Blues

 

Team BFB L – R: producer Eldarin Yeong, director Jessica Higgs, writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi

For a write up of the evening, check out Papergang Theatre’s blog post “Echo at the Bush”:

“Tuesday 20th of October, saw our first collaboration with the Bush Theatre, a new writing and storytelling event ECHO. We showcased an evening with Continue reading

Bound Feet Blues is part of the South East Asian (SEA) Arts Festival 2015!

The SEA Arts Fest or South East Asian Arts Festival has been a key supporter of Bound Feet Blues from the very beginning. One of the festival’s producers Annie Kwan saw writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi’s scratch night performance of the draft work in March 2014 at Conway Hall and invited Yang-May to bring it to the festival later that year.

In October 2014, Yang-May showcased the completed version Bound Feet Blues for one night only as part of the SEA Arts Fest 2014 to a sold out audience and garnered 4+ star reviews.

This year SEA Arts Fest 2015 is championing Bound Feet Blues again, scheduling the full production as part of the festival.  We are grateful to festival director Hi Ching and his team for their ongoing support and enthusiasm for the show.

SEA Arts Fest 2015

SEA ArtsFest is the first Southeast Asian arts festival in the UK, championing and developing the work of the artists of Southeast Asia and those inspired by Southeast Asia. SEA ArtsFest brings together artists, practitioners, makers and thinkers to increase awareness of SEA Arts and its audience base, and is supported by Arts Council England.

The festival features an exciting range of work including film, theatre, music, traditional and heritage arts, outdoor performances, participatory workshops, digital media-based projects, roundtable discussions, and more, taking place across multiple locations in London and other parts of the UK. The inaugural festival took place between 1st October and 10th November 2013.

SEA ArtsFest 2015 will be taking place between 26th October and 13th December 2015.

 

~~

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.

Yang-May Ooi, writer and performer of Bound Feet Blues says: More East Asian stories needed in UK mainstream media

Yang-May Ooi, writer/ performer of Bound Feet Blues talks about the lack of East Asian stories in UK mainstream media and what could be done to redress the balance.

~~

You can buy tickets for Bound Feet Blues THE SHOW 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.

Bound Feet Blues featured in Nee Hau, the online magazine for British Chinese and East Asian Culture

Yang-May Ooi, writer and performer of Bound Feet Blues, has been featured in Nee Hau, the online magazine for British Chinese and East Asian culture. You can read the full article by clicking on the image below.

neehau-screenshot

Here is an extract: “From internationally best-selling fiction author to performing her personal story, with a three-week run at Tristan Bates Theatre scheduled from November 24th to December 12th2015, Yang-May has evolved to become the confident storyteller she is today, shining in her 50s. The show is part of the South East Asian Arts Festival 2015 and funded by The Arts Council and The Housing Finance Corporation. Yang-May is supported by a team of experts including Jessica Higgs, creative director, Eldarin Yeong, producer and Hua Tan, theatre designer.” Read the full article..

 

~~

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.

Yang-May Ooi will be at Papergang’s Echo Event at Bush Theatre, 20 Oct 2015 for a night of East Asian stories

Yang-May Ooi will be taking part in an evening of East Asian story-exchanges with other established and upcoming East Asian artists at the Bush Theatre on 20 Oct 2015. The event is hosted by Papergang Theatre, a platform for British East Asian artist.

Papergang Echo event at Bush Theatre 20Oct15 screenshot

Here is what Papergang has to say about the evening:

“Through a mix of performance, poetry and music, established and up-and-coming artists are keen to share their tales, to awaken us, to connect us and to inspire…

Listen as our guests divulge personal anecdotes born from the different cultures that have shaped them – fantastical tales, personal truths, memories of far-flung shores or incidents that happened right here in our city.”

The event is already sold out!

Yang-May will be performing an extract from Bound Feet Blues. She says: “I’m also looking forward to seeing Continue reading

Women as Decorative Objects – International Women’s Day discussion panel [Women’s History Month]

In ancient China, women were treated as decorative objects – beautiful to look at, unable to leave the house because of their crippled bound feet, silent and submissive. That was the argument I made in my talk for the International Women’s Day panel discussion on Body Image hosted by the Pan Asian Women’s Association (PAWA) last week at the Nehru Centre in London.

L to R: Jee Oh, Yang-May Ooi, Sally Gloyne, Edna Fernandes

 

And that attitude to women underlies the way that women are viewed and treated today – even in our modern Western society. Of course, great strides have been made in liberal democracies for women’s rights and equality as well as for diversity. But there is still much work to be done in unbinding us from deep rooted cultural traditions that shame us for being “bossy”, old, ugly and dressed unconventionally – ie for being undecorative and for trying to be more than eye candy.

I feel passionately that the past can offer us a way in to exploring current issues in our present culture. We may look at the brutal tradition of bound feet and think that it was a weird practice that has nothing to do with us. But for the women of that time, this practice lasted for a thousand years and was done to little girls by their mothers and grandmothers. They believed that it was the right and only thing to do to guarantee happiness and a good life for their daugthers. If they had that blindspot, what is our cultural blindspot?

Where we are forced to conform to one universal Continue reading

Sweet Vintage Photo of Butch and Femme Japanese-style

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….

Two Japanese women featuring vintage cross-dressing.

 

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