An intriguing and evocative new video trailer for Yang-May Ooi’s memoir Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes [video]

We are delighted to unveil this new video trailer for Yang-May Ooi’s memoir, Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes. It features photos from the book as well as some from Yang-May’s personal photo albums which we hope evokes the mood and themes of this powerful family memoir.



Yang-May writes:

Writing a memoir isn’t an ego thing for me. Rather, it was a way to look back at my life – and also the lives of the women who came before me in my family – and to make sense of the challenges and heartache as well as remembering the joy and human connections that have made me the creative artist I am today.  I write my own story to transform the personal into the universal.  My hope is that readers will be inspired by the stories in Bound Feet Blues to look back at their own lives and find the moments, stories and people who can inspire *them* going forward.


You can buy a copy of Bound Feet Blues from:


or the publishers website at Urbane Publications


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:




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:





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


Bound feet and what it means to be a woman – The Women’s Institute, East Dulwich 03 February 2016

Writer/ performer of Bound Feet Blues, Yang-May Ooi, will be speaking about bound feet and what it means to be a woman at the WI (Women’s Institute) East Dulwich SE22 on Wednesday 03 February 2016.


Yang-May writes:

I’m delighted to have been invited to speak at the WI at the Literary Evening with Local Authors. Here’s the line up for the evening;

Lloyd Shepherd is an author of three historical thrillers, The English Monster, The Polished Island and Savage Magic.  He will be speaking to us about his latest book, Savage Magic.

Yang-May Ooi will be presenting on her newest book, Bound Feet Blues which is a story told through the shoes she has worn in her life. Yang-May is also author of the best selling novel, the Flame Tree.

Rebecca Mackenzie will be reading an excerpt from her debut novel, In a Land of Paper Gods.

Harry from Dulwich Books will also be joining us with the above mentioned authors books as well as a selection of their top picks.

I’ll be talking about why bound feet are still relevant to us today as modern women in the West and how feet and shoes can invite us to think about what it means to be a woman.

bound foot in chinese slipper


normal foot in high heels


I’m also looking forward to meeting the WI members and hearing the other authors talk about their books. It’s going to be a fascinating evening.

It’s a private WI event – if you’rea member it would be lovely to see you there. If not, you can enquire 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 **

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, thanks to Jessica Keating Photography – (CCL)


from thanks to Queens Ball 2010 – (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

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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


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, thanks to Mark Wassell – (CCL0

Uluru – once known as Ayers Rock . From, thanks to Rita Willaert – (CCL)

A pivotal moment in Bound Feet Blues occurs on the precipice at Kings Canyon, Australia – photo from thanks to Los viajes del Cangrejo – (CCL)


Continue reading