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


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

28 Days in the Writing, A Lifetime in the Making – Bound Feet Blues, the BOOK [video]

Author Yang-May Ooi talks about how she was able to write the book, Bound Feet Blues – all 420 pages of it! – in 28 days.

This groundbreaking family and personal memoir was a lifetime in the making. The stories span several generations, going back to the young boy who was kidnapped by bandits and the young woman with bound feet who ran away from an unhappy marriage. Yang-May interweaves these ancestral tales with her own personal story as she learns what it takes to become her own woman.

In this video, she gives us a flavour of the book and shares her creative process in bringing these stories to life.

TO BUY THE BOOK, click on the links below:



URBANE PUBLICATIONS – special 25% discount code: shoes

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

Meet The Centre for Solo Performance where writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi developed the script of Bound Feet Blues

Bound Feet Blues was just an idea in the mind of writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi when she signed up for a workshop at The Centre for Solo Performance in January 2014. With the guidance of facilitators Luke Dixon and Sean Bruno and the feedback of the others workshop participants, Yang-May completed the script of Bound Feet Blues in 12 weeks. She performed a work-in-progress version of the piece at the Centre’s Going Solo scratch night in March 2014 at Conway Hall.

At the performance was one of the producers of the South East Asian (SEA) Arts Festival, Annie Kwan, who invited Yang-May to perform the completed show at that year’s festival in October. The showcase was performed at the Tristan Bates Theatre to a sold out audience and 4+ star reviews. Now, within 2 years of first starting the script, Yang-May and the Bound Feet Blues creative team have brought the show to full production, opening at Tristan Bates Theatre for a 3 week run on 24 November 2015.

The Centre for Solo Performance

CSP-workshopBased in central London at historic Conway Hall, THE CENTRE FOR SOLO PERFORMANCE works with THE CONWAY COLLECTIVE in providing a specialist series of unique performance workshops, events and opportunities catering to writers, actors and performance artists interested in creating, developing, sharing solo performance work.

LukeDixonSeanhiresLuke Dixon is a performance maker, writer, teacher and academic, internationally known for his innovative productions of Shakespeare, his site-specific performances, his teaching of actors and his research into performance. Sean Bruno has a wide range of experience in making, both solo and collaborative, performance work in various contemporary and traditional styles; including dance, spoken word, multimedia and site specific.

Creating Solo PerformanceTheir book Creating Solo Performance is now available as well. It is an innovative toolbox of exercises and challenges focused on providing you – the performer – with engaging and inspiring ways to explore and develop your idea both on the page and in the performance space. Creating Solo Performance by Sean Bruno and Luke Dixon £18.99

You can watch highlights from that first scratch night performance at Conway Hall below:



**You can buy tickets for Bound Feet Blues via **

Continue reading

From storytelling to stage performance – Yang-May Ooi talks about her journey from writer to performer

British-Malaysian writer/ performer Yang-May Ooi has been interviewed for, the online magazine for expat Malaysians, by writer/ journalist Ai-Leen Lim. In the interview, she talks about her journey from writer to performer in creating Bound Feet Blues, her solo stage show, opening in London’s West End on 24 November.

You can read the full article, – brilliantly titled “The Rebel Bearing Shoes”! – with background information about Yang-May by clicking on the image below…

outstation screenshot is an online magazine for Malaysians living abroad. Ai-Leen Lim is a writer/ journalist from Malaysia, now living in London.

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


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.

Be the first to read an extract from Bound Feet Blues, the book

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 Continue reading

Bound Feet Blues, the book, to be published by a handsome man at Urbane Publications

In February, I signed with Urbane Publications to bring out the book of Bound Feet Blues: The Stories behind the Story. Here is the historic moment – I am with Matthew Smith of Urbane, signing the contract on the 5th floor balcony of the Royal Festival Hall.


One of my female friends asked me, “Who is that handsome man you are with?”

Hmm. Regular readers of this blog will know that I grapple with the issue of women being objectified for their beauty and in particular, in ancient China for their tiny bound feet. So as a feminist and a humanist, I am in a quandary. Does that comment objectify Matthew?

Another female friend commented on Facebook about me in this photo: “looking f***ing hot”. Was she objectifying me?

I would say that neither comment is an objectification. I am all for appreciating someone’s looks, whether they are male or female – so long as Continue reading