Production In Development

Butterfly in Blue Jeans is the first of a planned trilogy of plays by Yang-May Ooi, inspired by the “Doomed Diva” trio of operas, Madama Butterfly, La Traviata and Carmen.


Yang-May and Julie come together to collaborate on Butterfly in Blue Jeans. During this year, we lay the groundwork for the development work to come.

Writer Yang-May Ooi (L) with Actor Julie Cheung-Inhin (R)

On the creative side, we brainstorm ideas, talking about the issues and themes we want to explore as East Asian women and artists. We look at what the Madama Butterfly story means to us and what our responses are as modern women to this tragic portrayal of an East Asian geisha.

On the production side, we gather the creative team.

We are delighted to have Jessica Higgs as our director. She is an experienced director  who has also worked on  Yang-May’s Bound Feet Blues and has a creative understanding of the East/ West dialogue that we want to engage with in this new play, Butterfly in Blue Jeans.

Playwright Yang-May Ooi with director Jessica Higgs during rehearsals for Yang-May’s solo show Bound Feet Blues (Tristan Bates Theatre, 2015)

We are excited that Papergang Theatre are producing the show. Simon Ly, co-founder and dramaturg, has a passion for script development and will be working with Yang-May to hone the script for performance. Co-founder Clarissa Widya has the perfect business skills and producing expertise to take control of the funding and administration which are the cornerstones of a successful production.

Together the creative team starts initial work for the project. On the creative side, we start brainstorming and exploratory reading and discussions to support the main work of writing and devising to come. On the production side, we work on securing venues for the workshopping and for the staged reading, building relationships with funders and supporters and ensuring all the details will be in place for a robust, efficient production in 2017 that will deliver on our objectives to develop the script of Butterfly in Blue Jeans to a number of public staged readings –  and after that, to full production.


We anticipate that with funding confirmed, the project gets the green light to go ahead.

From January to July 2017, the creative work for Butterfly in Blue Jeans evolves.

Yang-May researches the background context for the play through books, interviews, current affairs and discussions. Her research also takes her into the themes on the original Madama Butterfly story and the portrayal of East Asian women in the last 100 years in history, music, literature and drama.  She also works on shaping an outline story arc and characters for the foreground drama.

Actor Julie Cheung-Inhin will take the role of “Butterfly”

On the production side, auditions take place for the actors who will participate in the workshop and devising of the play – and who* will go on to take part in the public staged reading of the completed script, supporting Julie’s lead role in the piece.

Led by our director Jessica, Julie works with the other actors to workshop ideas and scenarios to develop characterisation and dramatisation of Yang-May’s outline story arc. Yang-May attends these workshops in dialogue with the performers and director to capture the most powerful devised work for the text. The outcome of these workshops informs Yang-May’s further writing process as she works in more detail on the script afterwards.

The workshop team comes together again to try out the rough draft script. Taking the learning from these follow up workshops, Yang-May re-works the script into its final form, ready for the public staged readings. The actors and director meet again to rehearse the final script.

Lead actor and creative collaborator, Julie Cheung-Inhin

A staged reading of Butterfly in Blue Jeans is confirmed to place as part of the inaugural Cross Drifts Arts Festival in London during July/ August 2017. The reading will be followed by a Q&A with Yang-May, Julie and  Jessica (chair to be confirmed).

There are other public staged readings planned. We are exploring submissions to other arts festivals as well as a general tour during mid-2017 through to 2018.

Beyond 2017

Our hope is that the a successful staged reading of Butterfly in Blue Jeans will enable us to take the play to full production.

And beyond the full production of  Butterfly in Blue Jeans, we aim to develop the further two plays in the trilogy, at the moment tentatively entitled Taiping Traviata and Carmen Chong.

Watch this space…!



*depending on the number of characters that will emerge during the workshop and writing process, not all the actors taking part in the workshop may have parts in the staged reading of the final script.