All posts tagged: mental health

Lao Chess on the Rise!

When it comes to chess in Southeast Asia, most people think of that highly problematic Murray Head song, “One Night in Bangkok” from the 80s musical Chess, and chess queens might not excite you the way it would others. Last month, the Laos Chess Federation made a strong showing to change that perception, hosting the 1st Laos International Open from January 3rd to 7th in Vientiane. Chess is an Asian strategy game over 1,500 years old, depicting the conflict between two rival armies, with each piece capable of unique moves to capture the other’s pieces. The goal is to place your opponent’s king into a situation where it is impossible for him to move safely, known as checkmate, from an Arabic term, shah mat, meaning “the King is dead” or “the King is helpless.” Today, it’s a game popular around the world, including Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and the US. Well-known players of the 20th century include Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fischer. Although chess is widely believed to have begun in India, India’s first modern Grandmaster, Viswanathan …

Lao Science Fiction On the Rise

Lao science fiction is making its mark! This weekend in Bloomington, award-winning Lao American playwright and poet Saymoukda Vongsay will be one of the guests of honor at the MarsCon convention, presenting “Kung Fu Zombies vs. Shaman Warrior.” In her presentation, she will discuss the often taboo subject of mental illness. She notes that for many communities it is often explained as demonic possession. Beliefs like this stem from centuries of folklore about demons, ghosts, monsters, and witch doctors. “I want to talk specifically about refugee communities and the second installment from my Kung Fu Zombieverse anthology of stage works,” Vongsay said. It’s an important subject. There are reports that for many years, there have been only two psychiatrists in all of Laos. The MarsCon theme this year is Heroes & Wizards & Fae, Oh, My! Vongsay’s work has been published nationwide. Her play, Kung Fu Zombies vs Cannibals, was produced by Mu Performing Arts and named Best Production of 2013 by L’etoile Magazine. She is the inaugural recipient of the 2010 Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry, …