Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao writer. CNN’s “United Shades of America” host W. Kamau Bell called her work “revolutionary.” Governor Mark Dayton recognized her and others with a “Lao Artists Heritage Month” Proclamation. She’s a recipient of a 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.” She's the author of the children's book WHEN EVERYTHING WAS EVERYTHING and is best known for her award-winning play KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS. Other plays include KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS SHAMAN WARRIOR, LITTLE MEKONG MURDER MYSTERY PLAY, BURIED BY THE GARDEN, and HMONG LAO FRIENDSHIP PLAY. Her work has been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (NY), Theater Mu (MN), Lower Depth Theater (LA), Asian Improv Arts (IL), and elsewhere. Other awards include grants/fellowships from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Bush Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation, MAP Fund, Playwrights' Center, Forecast Public Art, and dozens more. Saymoukda is currently a Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow in playwriting, a Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Theater Mu, a McKnight Foundation Fellow in Community-Engaged Practice Art, and a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in playwriting.
I would love an agent but until then, please email me at saymoukda [at] theatermu.org
A young Lao American woman, Sika, determined to return her parent’s ashes to their homeland meets a ragtag team of reformed Buddhist monks, a young girl, and a woman with a sharp knife and a death-on-contact kick. Their journey, framed by the Five Buddhist tenets, is told through an amalgamation of tough decisions, severed heads, human steaks, a chorus of cannibals, and folktales.
The play examines morality and brings to light, the United State's CIA secret carpet-bombing campaign on Laos during the Vietnam War, making Laos the most bomb country per capita in history.
Kung Fu Zombies vs Cannibals was commissioned and produced by Theater Mu with a world premiere in 2013. The play received critical acclaim and was named "Best Production of 2013" by L'Etoile Magazine. It became Mu's highest-grossing world premiere with a record number of ticket sales to youth (teens-25 y.o.)!
In the post-apocalyptic mountains of northern Laos, Arun must rescue her sister Khwan from an unpredictable cult leader. With Hanuman as her spiritual guide, she battles zombies in the jungle, demons from the underworld, and her own personal monsters. Shaman Warrior highlights Akha spiritual practices and interrogates foreign colonization and hegemony with plenty of “easter eggs” for fans of pop culture. KFZSW is the prequel to KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS.
- Version 2 of KFZSW was workshopped at The Playwrights' Center in June-July 2018.
- Version 3 of KFSW was developed at Everwood Farmstead Foundation in August 2020.
- Version 4 of KFSW was written and workshopped at Theater Mu with dramaturgy by C. Meaker and direction by Lily Tung Crystal in March-April 2022. It received a staged reading as part of Mu's New Eyes Festival in April 2022.
Future: KFZSW will have a world premiere in July 2023, thanks to Theater Mu!
Theater Mu (Saint Paul, MN) has included my new play KUNG FU ZOMBIES SAGA: SHAMAN WARRIOR & CANNIBALS in their 2022/2023 season!
Bush Leadership Fellowship for playwriting 2022
Saint Paul, MN — Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay believes artists can be bold architects of social change. As a leader in Lao American theater and one of the country’s most successful Lao playwrights, she recognizes the tremendous impact that theater has on perceptions of people and communities. She wants to shine a spotlight on Laotian stories and create opportunities for Laotian artists to be disruptors, interrogators, documentarians, instigators and imagineers in the Lao American Theater Movement. To become a prominent leader and spokesperson for Lao American theater, she will expand her connections with established artistic leaders regionally and Laotian artists and communities nationally. She also plans to improve her speaking skills, travel to her ancestral country, and become more fluent in reading, writing and speaking the Lao language.
Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship in theater 2021/22
ST. PAUL, MN, January 27, 2021— The Jerome Foundation is pleased to announce the 2021 grant recipients in the second round of the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowships program. 60 Fellowships are being awarded (10 each in the disciplines of dance, film/new media, literature, music, theater/performance/spoken word, and visual arts) to early-career artists based in Minnesota and New York City, with 84 additional awards to finalists and alternates.
Two-year Fellowship awards total $3 million. Each award is $50,000 over two years ($25,000 per year) in direct support to artists to create new work, advance artistic goals and/or promote professional development.
Applicants applied either individually or jointly to share a single award as part of a sustained collaborative. Discipline-specific panels, composed of artists, curators, artistic leaders and arts administrators, reviewed a total of 820 applicants before identifying 144 as finalists for fuller discussion in advance of recommending a slate of Fellows to the Jerome Board of Directors for approval. In their deliberations, panels considered applicants’ samples of past works, additional past artistic accomplishments, the potential impact of a fellowship on their careers and their artistic field, their readiness to take maximum advantage of support and their alignment with Jerome’s values of innovation, diversity and humility. In reaching the final roster of Fellows, panels were charged with recommending to the Jerome Board a cohort that collectively captures the energy and diversity of their respective fields.
At their meeting on December 6, the Board unanimously and enthusiastically approved the recommended 27 Fellowships supporting 27 artists from Minnesota and 33 Fellowships supporting 35 artists (two 2-person collaboratives) for artists based in New York City.
Mellon Foundation National Playwright in Residence 2020/23
Through HowlRound and the Mellon Foundation National Playwright Residency Program, Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay will be Theater Mu's playwright in-resident.
Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is the recipient of an Emerging Artist Project Grant from Forecast Public Art for their project IN THE CAMPS: A REFUGEE MUSICAL, which follows the lives of Laotian families who have escaped communist Laos and await resettlement approvals in Saint Paul, MN. More info.