All posts tagged: theater

On fearlessness and art with #LAWS2017’s Saymoukda and Krysada

Next week, Seattle gears up to host the 4th Lao American Writers Summit. I sat down to have a candid conversation with my friends and summit keynote speakers, Saint Paul-based playwright Saymoukda Douangphouxay Vongsay and San Diego-based bboy poet Krysada Binly Panusith Phounsiri. When it comes to honing their craft and building community through art, there are very few Lao Americans I know who hold the level of badassery as much as these two. We talk about the state of Lao America, building a community of artists and what’s next on their project plate. Chanida: What are you both looking forward to the most in Seattle? Krysada: Meeting new people and having conversations. Live chats with people will be my highlight. Saymoukda: Learning about other artists whom I haven’t met and learning about their work. I want to find possibilities to grow together and collaborate if it makes sense. And to amplify each other’s work. We don’t amplify each other’s work enough. C: Give us a teaser about your keynote speeches. S: There’s not a …

Lao American Writers Summit and making a case for the arts

Seven years ago Catzie Vilayphonh, Bryan Thao Worra and I co-founded the Lao American Writers Summit. Lead by Bryan we were able to raise funds and support from foundations, state agencies, individuals, and businesses. LAWS could not have happened without that initial support. In order to understand the significance of LAWS, you have to first understand the circumstances of Laotian communities. We came here as refugees. Survivors of the Secret War in Laos – a proxy conflict of the Vietnam War. Anti-communist Laotians fought on the side of the CIA. Thousands of Laotians were sent to re-education/labor camps, the lucky ones only saw their friends executed. My father, uncles, and grandfather escaped labor camps. After the fall of Long Chieng, an exodus of Laotians fled Laos, sought safety at refugee camps in neighboring countries. Since the late 70s, there are approximately 240,000 Laotian Americans nationally with roughly 12,000 calling Minnesota home. Unlike many of our APIA artist communities, Laotian artists more or less work in isolation as they are likely the only Laotian artist in …