Saymoukda Vongsay | Literary & Theater

Saymoukda cropped.jpg
Saymoukda cropped.jpg

Saymoukda Vongsay | Literary & Theater

"I would recommend Saymoukda to anyone. She was great with the high school kids. She worked at establishing relationships before she started with the process of play writing. She tried to identify with them and was very patient and heard what they had to say. Overall, the kids felt safe and respected." -- Ms. Thompson, Tri-County Schools

Saymoukda believes that there is an artist in all of us and feels that her gifts and talents can best be used to encourage others to explore, to understand and to realize their own creative strengths and potential.

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao American writer. She was born in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand and immigrated to Minnesota in 1984. Because of her unique background, her work is focused on creating tools and spaces for the amplification of refugee voices through poetry, theater, and experimental cultural production. 

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Her plays have been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Theater Mu, Consortium of Asian American Theater Artists, and Theater Unbound. She is a Many Voices fellow in playwriting, Loft Literary Center Spoken Word Immersion fellow, a Theater Mu New Performance fellow, a VERVE Grant for Spoken Word Poets recipient, and an Aspen Ideas Bush Foundation scholar. Her work has been possible due to support from the John S. and James L Knight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Bush Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and the MN State Arts Board. She is best known for her award-winning play KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS (Theater Mu) and is developing two more plays for the KUNG FU ZOMBIEVERSE anthology of stage works. Get to know her at and keep up with her @REFUGENIUS.

Saymoukda is a teaching artist because she enjoys fostering and supporting the creativity in others. "There is a Playwright in All of Us" gives students the basic tools of playwriting and the opportunity to learn the contents of playwriting. Participants will learn about playwrights from all walks of life, playwriting terms, the components of a script (character, plot, scenes, dialogue, and conflict) and the processes of rewriting and rehearsal. For the most part, playwrights work alone on their scripts but the art of theater-making requires collaboration from a director and actors, for instance. As a playwright, her work is influenced by Hip Hop, science fiction, comic books, and the people in her daily life. She enjoys creating entire worlds through her plays using film, theater, music, literary and visual arts. She believes in miscombinations and firmly believes that what you would do normally, make it strange.

Learn more about Saymoukda in her January 2015 Artist Spotlight interview.

Sample Programs: Customizable To Site’s Needs


There Is A Playwright In All of Us

Students will learn about playwrights from all walks of life, playwriting terms and the components of a script. Through improv and writing exercises, students are encouraged to stretch their imagination and flex their creativity. From their learnings, students will work collaboratively to create their very own flash play (3-5 pages). They will share their flash plays (colorful hand-made props included) at the end of the workshop. A minimum of five 2-hour sessions or ten 1-hour sessions is required. The workshops will culminate in a final sharing (a script-in-hand reading) in the classroom.

Session 1: Stimulating the imagination! Students will be introduced to playwrights from all walks of life through photos. We will discuss “characters” in our favorite books, movies, and why we find them interesting. We will then discuss “dialogue” and how dialogue (or lack of dialogue) carries a scene. We will end the session with a discussion on “conflict” of the scene or the “want” of a character.

Session 1 Activities: 2 writing (character list, 1-pg scene), 1 improv

Sessions 2-3: Let the writing begin! In small groups, students will brainstorm ideas for the type of play they would like to write: comedy or tragedy. Together they will write the first two drafts of their flash play; 3-5 pages. I will provide the initial guidance in the first 1.5 hours; the remaining time students will share what they have worked on so far and receive feedback from the rest of the class (students will be asked to give positive feedback).

Session 4: Introducing Revision! Groups will work on the final draft of their flash plays with guidance from me. Within their small group, they will have 2-3 read-throughs of their script. They will also create colorful props using construction paper. We will then re-group; I want to recognize the hard work that they’ve done so far and get them excited for their stage-readings in Session 5. We need to celebrate our successes, even small ones.

Session 5: Curtains Rise! Students will spend the first 15 minutes to rehearse their flash play. Students present their flash plays. We will re-group and discuss “highlights” of the workshop overall.



My Cape is Under My Shirt: Creating The Super/S/Heroes We See In Ourselves

This workshop will be in several parts and is appropriate for all ages.

I. Conversation on Super/S/Heroes: Why are we drawn to certain superheroes, comic book series, science fiction universes, and alternate realities? What does that say about us? Identifying our own gifts and talents; Identifying an issue that we are passionate about; Exploring how we can use our unique gifts and talents to address the issue; Imagining ourselves as Super/S/Heroes; Imagining the ISSUE as a Super Villain:

- What characteristics do they have?
- What strengths/weaknesses do they have?
- What do they look/sound like?
- How can they be defeated?

II: Writing and Movement

Writing an epic monologue. Using theater techniques to practice our S/Hero monologues. Creating our S/Hero badge (optional, using construction paper+glue+scissors+markers)

III: Performance