Three Thousand Troubled TreadsThree Thousand Troubled Treads, a Chinese phrase uses hair as a metaphor of the difficulties and challengers in life, is the title of a new play about what first and second generation of Chinese have to deal with in their life in the UK.

Chiew Siah Tei, a young Chinese Malaysian writer now living in Glasgow, will see her debut play on one of the world’s highest profile stages this coming August, one of three plays commissioned by Edinburgh International Festival Director Brian McMaster to be premiered at Festival 2005.

The play explores identity, the value of tradition, integration, culture and belonging through the life of the central character Ying, a young Chinese girl growing up in Glasgow. Her mother, Madam Chan, a first generation immigrant is clinging onto memories of her husband and the Chinese traditions that she misses and values. Ying is striving to fit in. She goes to Art college, has a Slovakian boyfriend and a job in a hairdresser’s run by an Italian. Using an unusual theatrical structure, incorporating film, it is a look at the increasingly multicultural society in the UK. The play mixes film projection, live action and four languages to convey the complexity of this powerful story. The stage acts as a living backdrop, carrying projections of moving images, Chinese calligraphy and English subtitles. Colour plays a vital role in showing the vibrancy that Ying strives for and the sadness pervading the daily life of Madam Chan.