Francis Tanglao Aguas is currently the Director of the Program of Africana Studies. 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 top of his class from the University of California, Los Angeles 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. In 2007, The William and Mary Image Awards accorded him the Outstanding Professor Award. The Class of 2015 awarded him the Class of 2015 Distinguished Professorship.
Professor Aguas work explores the dramatic intersections, convergences, and divergences inherent in American diversity. World theatre traditions steeped in indigenous and folklore form the core of his international creative research work; taking him to field work and workshop training in Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, The Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
He is the author of "When the Purple Settles," winner of the Don Carlos Palanca Award in Literature, the Philippines most prestigious Literary Award. 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 solo performance artist, Professor Aguas performed his "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.
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,” and Michael Golamco’s “Cowboy VS Samurai.”
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 recently directed the world premiere of Amanda Andrei’s “Every Night I Die” at the 2011 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."
In 2009, Professor Aguas became the first person of color to be awarded tenure at the College of William and Mary’s Department of Theatre, Speech, and Dance. He 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:
Theatre 200: Introduction to Theatre (GER 6)
Theatre 317: Playwriting (GER 6)
Theatre 332/Africana Studies 332: Sex & Race in Plays & Films: Dramatizing Diversity (GER 4C & 6)
Theatre 333: South & South East Asian Folklore Performance (GER 4B & 6)
Theatre 334: Classical Asian Theatres (GER 4B & 6)
Theatre 340: Acting Asian American: The Performance of Identity
Theatre 100: World Performing Arts & Cultures for Social Change
Theatre 460: Introduction to Tagalog: Filipino Language and Popular Performance Cultures
Asian American Studies
Professor Aguas is invested in building Asian American Studies at the College of 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.
He is an affiliate of the Global Studies Concentration 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.
Experiencing the World
Professor Aguas is dedicated to including William and Mary students in his international research of arts, cultures, and traditions. He has brought students on research and immersion trips to Bali, Indonesia and the Philippines, specifically in Tacloban, Leyte Island, which continues to recover from strongest typhoon ever recorded.