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.

Three Thousand Troubled Threads is a co-production between EIF, Stellar Quines Theatre Company and the Byre Theatre, St Andrews, and is directed by Muriel Romanes, a champion of womens’ writing. Opening at the Festival on Wednesday 31 August, it runs to Saturday 3 September at the Royal Lyceum Theatre. Chiew’s previous work includes two collections of prose in Chinese It’s Snowing and Secrets and Lies, the film Night Swimmer, premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2000 before picking up Best Short Film award at the Vendôme International Festival, and TV drama A Risky Deal. She also spent some time as a columnist and writer for Malaysian newspapers. Sara Houghton

Ying is played by Sara Houghton whose credits include Holby City, Doctors, The Eustace Brothers, Eastenders, Trust and London Bridge for television. She has also recently appeared in Plenty at the National Theatre. Film credits include Doom and Arabian Nights. Madam Chang, Ying’s mother, is played by Sarah Houghton’s real life mother Pik-Sen Lim. Pik-Sen has many credits to her name including Little Britain, The Lost Empire, The Eyes of Vince Magrino, Forty Something, Emergency Ward 10 and Doctor Who. Her films include Miranda (Carbon Miranda) and Fierce Creatures. Three Thousand Troubled Threads opens at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews on Friday 19 August and runs until Saturday 27 August, before opening at the Royal Lyceum Theatre as part of the Edinburgh International Festival. The cast also includes Jennifer Black, Suzanne Donaldson, Jonathan Holt, and Ozzie Yue.

Three Thousand Troubled Threads
by Chiew Siah Tei
A co-production between Edinburgh International Festival, Stellar Quines Theatre Company and the Byre Theatre, St Andrews.
Wed 31 August – Sat 3 September 7.30pm
Matinee Sat 3 September 2.30pm
Royal Lyceum Theatre
Hub Tickets 0131 473 2000