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Mellon Playwright-in-Residence at Theater Mu

I have been named as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence. The nearly $200,000 award comes with an additional $30,000 professional development fund. The Mellon residency will allow me to have an artistic home at Saint Paul-based Theater Mu where I will write plays through 2023.

I would love to travel internationally visiting theatermakers and attending performances around the world. Would love to meet more Laotian playwrights, too! 


In the Camps: A Refugee Musical

A beautician, an ex-monk, a new mother, and ex-communist soldier recount life before the Secret War while awaiting resettlement in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Using folktales, humor, and songs inspired by 70s-80s American and Thai/Lao pop music, the musical centers ALL LAO EVERYTHING.





To be written and produced by Saymoukda, this musical aims for a 2022 world premiere.

This project is funded with grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the MAP Fund, Forecast Public Art, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and the Jerome Foundation. 


Motherland Orphans, The Play

MOTHERLAND ORPHANS, THE PLAY is a new stage play about Southeast Asians living in the imaginary Little Mekong district in Saint Paul. Inspired by community members and their stories, the MOTHERLAND ORPHANS play was informed through interviews with Southeast Asian/Americans who identify as "motherland orphans." The new full-length play culminated in a public online conversation and reading with Southeast Asian actors at Xia Gallery in Saint Paul. 

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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The Manual for Motherland Orphans

The Manual for Motherland Orphans is essentially a "how to" for those of us who find ourselves in that funky space between not being born in our family's Motherland and yet being tethered to her through stories, languages, cultural practices, and more. The activity book/visual journal/anthology and collection of flash films is created by Southeast Asian artists with Saymoukda in the role of Artistic Director and Publisher (Refugenius Lab). 

This project is funded through grants from the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations and the Minnesota Humanities Center. 

Art by Dennis Madamba


Kung Fu Zombies vs Shaman Warrior

This prequel to KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS follows an indigenous Akha woman affected by mental illness who must fight the monsters inside of her as well as the monsters out in the real world. This play examines how mental illness is perceived as demonic possession, bad karma, or a curse by many indigenous peoples of Laos and resurfaces ancestral ways of healing. And there are zombies. Written by Saymoukda.


A version of this play was commissioned by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. It continues to be developed with grants and support received from the Playwrights' Center, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Everwood Foundation. 

Art by Alex Kuno

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