Anton Juan - Full Biography

Internationally recognized for his work that often challenges convention, stunning visual poetry, and language in space, playwright and director Anton Juan is a Tenured Full Professor and Theatre director at the University of Notre Dame du Lac in the USA. He completed his Ph.D. in Semiotics at the Kapodistrian and Panhellenic University of Athens. To honor his contributions to the arts, Juan has been knighted twice by the French government, receiving the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1992 and the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de Merit in 2002. He received the Alexander Onassis International Award for Theatre (Playwriting), and the Special Jury Prize for Screenplay from the CineManila International Film Festival. Beyond his work at Notre Dame, Juan is also the founding Artistic Director of the Step of Angels Theatre in Athens, Greece and was the Director-General of Dulaang UP, University of the Philippines, where he has taught at the Departments of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts, English and Comparative Literature, and European Languages. He was also the Fellow for Drama at the Creative Writing Center of UP.

Earlier known as the “enfant-terrible” of Philippine Theatre, to Juan’s disciplined mentorship, is credited the success of many emergent directors, actors, and playwrights. His visually poetic and expressive physical style of theatre has certainly created an impact on his audiences and recent generations of artists of the Philippines as well as on artists and students in other countries where he has taught. His students have won awards for Playwriting, Acting, and Directing both nationally and internationally.  Juan was selected as one of the 100 Philippine Artists awarded the CCP Philippine Centennial  Honors for the Arts, who have contributed significantly to and made an impact on the evolution of Philippine culture. He has also received the Balagtas Award from the National Writers’ Union of the Philippines for his body of works, and has won several Playwriting awards from the Carlos Palanca Literary Awards.  Juan has received Fellowships and Awards from prestigious institutions, among them the Rockefeller-Bellagio Foundation Fellowship for senior artists, the Fulbright Foundation, Hitachi Foundation of Japan, Jack Lang Scholarship in France, Asian Cultural Council in New York, the Association of French Artists and the Ministry of Culture of France, the Ministry of Education of Greece, and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the British Council. Recently Juan received the Center for Social Concerns John Ganey Award for social engagement with his Theatre and Social Concerns project with Juvenile Prison Residents and migrant workers.

Juan is a board member of the International Playwrights’ Forum. His works, Shadows of the Reef,  (David Thayer Theatre and Regis Philbin Theatre),  Hinabing Pakpak ng Ating mga Anak (The Winged Fragments of our Children) for Dulaang UP, and choreography, Bread of Angels  for Ballet Philippines resurrects the voices of abused children. His work Tuko! Tuko! The Princess of the Lizard Moon raises the memories of comfort women and murdered sex slaves meeting in the body of a Butoh actor. His famed direction of Salome in Kabuki form and his treatment of Marlowe’s  Dr. Faustus as the diachronic virtual man received rave reviews in the USA. His recent work, devised after Gambaro’s Information for Foreigners, elicited raves for its powerful portrayal of the missing and tortured in global perspective, merging the carnivalesque and the macabre, and the documentary, with the actual families of the missing and the actors creating a theatre manifesto. This raging work triggered a theatre manifesto against the torturer Parparan and caused the government to hunt down the torturer.  

Juan’s conceptualization and direction of Screen Macbeth, which received standing ovations at the International Shakespeare Festival in Taiwan 2012, had his audience cocooned in a screen that became the world of Macbeth’s liminal space. The shadows, the supernatural leaped out of the “unreal” into the “real” and the socially abject interweaving with the action onstage. This work was recently invited to be performed at the International Shakespeare Festival on Shakespeare and the other Media at the NTU, Taiwan. Juan recently directed the much-acclaimed “out of the box” Madama Butterfly in an international collaboration of Philippines, Singapore, Japan, and Mexico, to rousing standing ovations from a full house at the CCP, and he also won the Philstage National Critics Awards as Outstanding Director for his innovative direction of Joy Luck Club. He was invited as Visiting Professor by the University of Sorbonne, where his work and theatre production with the students wowed the faculty and the students as “nouvelle, forte, et profonde (fresh, strong, and profound. - Dayan).” He has been named Artist in Residence at the Kellogg Institute of International Studies.

Peter Holland writes: “Anton Juan is one of the most exhilarating directors in the world.” Juan’s moving poetic style has been seen and widely admired in the Philippines, in Asia, the USA, and Europe, not only as innovative and visually exciting, but also as merging inner space, movement, sound-sense, with the urgent cry for insularized, marginalized, and emergent cultures.