Professor Aguas is the founding Director of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies Program at William and Mary. He is a playwright, performer, director, producer, and teacher of theatre, film, and dance. He was born and raised in Pampanga, Philippines until his family left for Nigeria, West Africa where he completed his primary education. He graduated at the top of his class from the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, & Television receiving both his B.A. in Theater, Magna Cum Laude, and his Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing. At UCLA, he was Founding Artistic Director of Theater Underground, the university's undergraduate resident theater company.
He is the first faculty of color to be tenured (2009) and promoted to full Professor (2016) in the performing arts at William & Mary. Students have honored him with the William and Mary Image Award for Outstanding Professor (2007), the NAACP Perseverance Award (2009), and the Class of 2015 Distinguished Professorship. Directing the Program of Africana Studies from 2012 to 2016, Professor Aguas initiated the expansion of faculty appointments in the program. President Taylor Reveley appointed him to the President's Task Force on Race and Race Relations in 2016.
The creative work of Professor Aguas explores the dramatic intersections, convergences, and divergences inherent in American diversity. World theatre traditions steeped in indigenous cultures and folklore form the core of his international research that has taken him to Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, The Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam.
He is the author of "When the Purple Settles," winner of the 2002 Don Carlos Palanca Award in Literature, the Philippines most prestigious literary prize. His other plays include "Abuja Woman" (Audrey Skirball Kenis Playwriting Award), "Where the Carabao Sleeps" (A.S.K. Theater Projects Award), and "Ramayana La'ar" (Virginia Gazette's Best Play of 2007).
As a performer, Professor Aguas has performed his solo show "The Sarimanok Travels" (James Pendleton Prize) in California, Ohio, New Jersey, Hawaii, Malaysia, and the Philippines. His newest piece is "The Imelda Marcos of the Philippines International Dictator Training Lecture Series," which he has performed in Singapore and China. In 2016, he performed the role of Clytemnestra in "The Oresteia Trilogy" directed by Dr. Richard Palmer.
He is the founding Artistic Director of IPAX, International Performance Arts eXchange, an arts community with a view to a more diverse creative landscape. Since its inception from the African American Theatre Club and “Ramayana La’ar” cast in 2007, IPAX has produced Betty Shamieh’s “ROAR!” (the first Arab American play on the William & Mary campus), Ntozake Shange’s “for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuff,” Anna Deavere Smith’s “Twilight: Los Angeles 1992,” Michael Golamco’s “Cowboy VS Samurai,” and Edit Villarreal's "My Visits with MGM: My Grandmother Marta."
For William and Mary Theatre, he collaborated with students on the Hindu epic "Ramayana" to create the dance theater pieces "Ramayana La'ar" in 2007, and "Sitayana: Journey of Womanhood" in 2013. He also directed the regional premiere of Keralino Sandorovich’s “Disappearance,” Suzan-Lori Parks' Pulitzer Prize winning "Topdog/Underdog” (Honorable Mention Award in Directing and Acting, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival), and “when the purple settles.” He directed the world premiere of Amanda Andrei’s “Every Night I Die” at the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington DC. In 2014, he worked with colleagues and students in presenting the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning play "Clybourne Park."
Professor Aguas' scholarship is published in "Asian American Identities and Practices: Folkloric Expressions in Everyday Life" edited by Jonathan H.X. Lee and Kathleen Nadeau (Lexington, 2014) and Encyclopedia of Asian American Foklore and Folklife, Volume 3 (ABC-CLIO, 2010). In 2016, Routledge published his piece on FIlipino comfort women of World War II in "Monologues for Actors of Color," edited by Roberta Uno.
He will be directing Jesse Eisenberg's "Asuncion" for William & Mary Theatre in February 2017.
Professor Aguas previously held teaching positions at Georgetown University, Kenyon College, and Ateneo de Manila University, and has given lectures and workshops nationwide at UCLA, UC Irvine, Virginia Tech, University of Maryland, Drexel University, DuPaul University, California State University San Bernardino, Ramapo College; and internationally at Singapore Management University, City University of Hongkong, and the International Islamic University of Malaysia.
His courses include:
APIA 205: Introduction to Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies
APIA 444: Filipino American & Diaspora Studies
APIA 445: Korean American Diaspora Studies
THEA 222: Acting Asian American: The Performance of Identity (GER 4C and 6)
THEA 317: Playwriting (GER 6)
THEA.AFST.GSWS 332: Sex & Race in Plays & Films: Dramatizing Diversity (GER 4C & 6, COLL 200)
THEA.AMES 333: South & South East Asian Folklore Performance (GER 4B & 6)
THEA 334: Classical Asian Theatres (GER 4B & 6)
THEA 460: Introduction to Tagalog: Filipino Language and Popular Performance Cultures (GER 4B)
Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies & Research Initiative
Professor Aguas builds the Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies Program at William and Mary through the Asian American Studies & Research Initiative, in close collaboration with the Asian American Student Initiative. He coordinates and advises the self-designed Interdisciplinary Major in Asian American Studies. Interested students may contact him via email or join the student movement via Facebook on Asian American Student Initiative .
He is an affiliate of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies and the Global Studies Program in Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, where he is a Mellon Faculty Mentor. He was the first Director of the Asian Studies Initiative funded by the Freeman Foundation, which paved the way for the College’s new Asian & Middle Eastern Studies program.
International Fellowship & Service
Professor Aguas is a Visiting Fellow of the Wee Kim Wee Centre for Diversity at Singapore Management University. He continues to include William and Mary students in his international research of arts, cultures, and traditions. He has brought students on research and immersion trips to Singapore, Bali, Indonesia and the Philippines, specifically in Tacloban, Leyte Island.