photo: John Lehman
Trickster: The Work of Thomas Riccio
2011 Documentary by Patrick Dowling
Premiere Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival
Thomas Riccio, performance and media artist, writer and director, is Professor of Performance and Aesthetics at the University of Texas at Dallas. Previous positions: Professor of Theatre, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Artistic Director, Chicago's Organic Theater Company; Resident Director, Cleveland Play House; Assistant Literary Director, American Repertory Theatre; Visiting Professor of Theatre, University of Der es Salaam (Tanzania); University of Pondicherry (India); University of Nairobi, the Korean National University for the Arts; Visiting Professor of Anthropology and Ethnography, Jishou University (China); Visiting Professor Drama Therapy, California Institute of Integral Studies; and Artistic Director, Tuma Theatre, an Alaska Native performance group. He has directed at American regional theatres, including, LaMama ETC, The New York Theatre Workshop, the Teatro di Roma of Italy, and the National Theatre of Sakha (Central Siberia). Riccio works extensively in the area of indigenous performance, ethnography, ritual, and shamanism, developing performances and fieldwork in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Russia, Alaska, Korea, India, Nepal, China, and the Republic of Sakha (Siberia), which declared him a “Cultural Hero.” Notable projects include research and workshop projects in India and Nepal (2013), devising/directing performance project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2009), research and workshop project in Nairobi, (2002), performance project with the !Xuu Bushmen of the lower Kalahari (1994), two performance projects with the Zulu of South Africa (1992 and 1993), and a nationwide touring performance in Zambia (1994). Riccio has conducted workshops and given lectures throughout the world, most notably at the national theatres or their schools in Poland, Sweden, Finland, Kenya, Estonia, South Africa. He has received numerous honors and grants for his projects. Academic writings have appeared in TDR, TheatreForum, Theatre Topics, Theatre Research International, and PAJ. Peter Lang published Performing Africa: Remixing Tradition, Theater and Culture. He is the recipient of the International Distinction Prize in Playwriting from the Alexander Onassis Foundation; his play Rubber City ran in year-long repertory at the Kleist Theatre in Frankfurt, and he has worked extensively as a Narrative Engineer for Hanson Robotics creating robot "brain" for the world's leading conversational robots. His photographs, videos, and installations have been exhibited in a variety of galleries. He is the Poo Pah Doo (aka Artistic Director ) of Dead White Zombies, a Dallas-based, post-disciplinary performance group, designing/writing/directing performance immersions: blah blah (2011), (w)hole (2012), Flesh World (2012), T.N.B. (2013), Bull Game (2013), kaRaoKe MoTeL (2014) and DP92 (2015). Currently, he is working on Holy Bone, an eight month, multi-phase performance project performed in public spaces and immersive environments, Fall 2016 into Spring 2017. He was an artist in residence at Halka in Istanbul (2014) and the Watermill Art Center (2016). He is currently collaborating with Sibyl Kempson on a series of twelve one-day performance rituals at the Whitney Museum, NYC. He is currently working on a long-term research and performance project with the Miao, an ethnic minority group in southwestern China, which will culminate in a devised performance with traditional healers. His first documentary film on the Miao, Huan Nuo Yuan, was an official selection at film festivals in Beijing, Dallas, and Paris.