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Saymoukda Vongsay

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Theater Mu, author of KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS, HMONG/LAO FRIENDSHIP PLAY, TITLE IX and others.

Saymoukda is a Lao writer born in a Thai refugee camp. She arrived in Minnesota in 1985 and grew up in Rondo. Her work focuses on creating tools and spaces for the amplification of refugee voices through poetry, theater, and experimental cultural production; threading themes of loss, healing, and histories with a sci-fi/fantasy aesthetic.

CNN’s “United Shades of America” host W. Kamau Bell called her work “revolutionary.” Governor Mark Dayton recognized her artistic and cultural contributions with a “Lao Artists Heritage Month” Proclamation. She’s a 2019 Sally Award for Initiative from the Ordway Center for Performing Arts which “recognizes bold new steps and strategic leadership undertaken by an individual...in creating projects or artistic programs never before seen in Minnesota that will have a significant impact on strengthening Minnesota’s artistic/cultural community.”

Praised for "her combination of difficult themes, honesty, pop culture, and extreme theatricality" (Playwrights' Center), her plays have been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Theater Mu, Lower Depth Theater Ensemble (LA), Asian Improv Arts (IL), and elsewhere. She’s a Playwrights’ Center (2018) and Theater Mu (2011, 2012) fellow in playwriting, a Loft Literary Center fellow in poetry (2018) and children's literature (2019), a Twin Cities Media Alliance fellow in public art (2018), an Aspen Ideas Bush Foundation fellow (2017), an Everwood Farmstead Foundation artist on retreat (2020), among other awards. She's received grants from Jerome Fdn, Bush Fdn, John S. and James L. Knight Fdn, MAP Fund, Forecast Public Art, MRAC, MSAB, and elsewhere. Her work has been mentioned by the NY Times, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, Mn Original, Minnesota Public Radio, and more. She holds a Master in Liberal Studies degree and co-hosted a podcast on Minnesota Public Radio.


On the left, a performer stands on top of a curved platform and speaks. On the right, a performer sits on a round platform with hands clasped together.
A Cypher Among Theatremakers from the Laotian Diaspora

A Cypher Among Theatremakers from the Laotian Diaspora

7 September 2023

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay convenes a roundtable discussion among actors, directors, producers, and playwrights from the Laotian diaspora who work in theatre in the United States. As former refugees and/or the refugees, these theatremakers navigate their places as arrivers in the settler-colonial structure of the United States.