Nina Lee Aquino

Artistic Director at NAC - English

Nina Lee Aquino is an award-winning Filipino-Canadian director and dramaturg who has tirelessly advocated for the representation and flourishing of IBPoC voices in Canadian theatre. She was the Founding Artistic Director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company and former Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre. She has directed world premieres and revivals at theatres across the country and has won a multitude of awards including the Ken McDougall Award, the Canada Council for the Arts John Hirsch Prize, the Margo Bindhart and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award, as well as a Toronto Theatre Critics Award and Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Direction for School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Obsidian Theatre), in addition to two Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Sultans of the Street (Young People’s Theatre) and paper SERIES (Cahoots Theatre). During her tenure, Factory cemented its reputation as a national leader for the development of new work and emerged as a leading training ground for the next generation of diverse Canadian theatre creators.

In addition to serving as the Founding Artistic Director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian theatre company, Nina Lee Aquino is credited with a string of firsts in Asian Canadian theatre: she organized the first Asian Canadian theatre conference; she edited the first (two-volume) Asian Canadian play anthology, and she co-edited the first (award-winning) book on Asian Canadian theatre.

Nina Lee Aquino is currently President of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres.

Over 10 seasons at Factory Theatre, Nina programmed world premiere and Toronto premiere productions from playwrights such as David Yee, Anusree Roy, Marjorie Chan, Yvette Nolan, Kat Sandler, and Jeff Ho, among others; programmed bold and imaginative re-interpretations of classic Canadian plays from Judith Thompson, Colleen Wagner, David French, Linda Griffiths, Daniel MacIvor, Anosh Irani, and Claudia Dey. She fostered relationships with some of the best theatre companies from across the country and brought their productions to Factory Theatre.

Following the March 2020 pandemic shutdown, Nina fully embraced the new digital theatre medium, commissioning and directing new digital and audio theatrical works at Factory and with post-secondary institutions and festivals. Notable digital works include House: The Isolation Version by Daniel MacIvor (Factory Theatre), acts of faith by David Yee (Factory Theatre), Defined by Bone by Mayumi Lashbrook (CanAsian Dance), rabbit hole by David Yee (Ryerson University), and You Can’t Get There From Here, an audio drama series (Factory Theatre).

Nina Lee Aquino co-wrote Miss Orient(ed) and her monologues have been published in Beyond the Pale (edited by Yvette Nolan) and She Speaks (edited by Judith Thompson).

Nina has taught and directed at educational institutions such as Humber College, University of Guelph, University of Toronto Mississauga-Sheridan College, Ryerson University, York University, and the National Theatre School. She is an honorary member of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research and was recently appointed Adjunct Professor at York University’s Department of Theatre. Her leadership has extended into mentoring theatre students and emerging artists. She was also the 2019 winner of the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Margo Bindhart.