Thomas P. Riccio

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Thomas Riccio, India 2013

Thomas P. Riccio (born 1955) is an American multimedia artist and academic. He received his BA from Cleveland State University in English Literature in 1978, his MFA from Boston University in 1982, and studied in the PhD program in Performance Studies at New York University from 1983 to 1984. Riccio has directed over one hundred plays at American regional theatres, off-off and off Broadway and has worked extensively in the area of indigenous and ritual performance conducting research and/or creating performances in: South Africa, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Europe, Russia, Siberia, Korea, India, Nepal, China, and Alaska. In 1993 the Peoples Republic of Sakha (central Siberia) declared him a “Cultural Hero”.


In 1980 Riccio was appointed Assistant Literary Director at the American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge, MA and Research Assistant to Robert Brustein. In 1984 he was appointed Dramaturg and Resident Director of the Cleveland Play House. 1985 he served as Artistic Director of the Organic Theatre, Chicago. In 1988 Riccio was appointed as Professor of Theatre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Artistic Director of Tuma Theater, an Inuit theatre group. He continued in both of these positions until 2003. From 2003 until present he has been the Professor of Performance Studies and Aesthetic Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. Since 2006 Riccio has worked with David Hanson at Hanson Robotics as a lead narrative engineer. He has also served as a Visiting Professor at the Korean National University for the Arts, California Institute of Integral Studies and the University of Dar es Salaam. He is a producing artist with Project X a Dallas-based performance collective [1]. He was created two media installations with Frank DuFour, The Invention of Memory (2010) and Not So Indifferent (2012) both at Central Trak Gallery, Dallas. In 2011 with Lori McCarty he formed Dead White Zombies, a Dallas-based experimental, post-disciplinary performance and media group that utilizes ritual and indigenous expressions. Riccio serves as Poo Pa Doo (artistic director) of the group and has written, directed, and created installations for four works since it founding. Blah Blah (2011); Flesh World (2012), (w)hole (2012), and T.N.B. (2013), Bull Game (2013), [2], Karaoke Motel (2014) [3], DP92 (2015) [4]. Was an artist in residence at the Watermill Arts Center (2016) [5] and is collaborating on 12 Shouts, a performance project with Sibyl Kempson for the Whitney Museum.

Notable works[edit]

  • 2003: Published the book Reinventing Traditional Alaska Native Performance[1]
  • 2004: Initiated the "Story Lab" and Artistic Director
  • 2004: Kartasi, a new media performance work
  • 2006: Alpha Male, a cyberpunk paranoia new media performance work
  • 2006: There is Never a Reference Point, a performance work about a person with multiple personality disorder [2]
  • 2006: Inuit, a play awarded the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation Distinction Prize in Playwrighting[3]
  • 2007: Participated in the creation of Einstein, a lifelike conversational robot, which was on display at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum NYC (12/2006 to 05/2007)
  • 2007: Published the book Performing Africa: Remixing Culture, Theatre and Tradition"[4]
  • 2008: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a performance/media immersion inspired by the 1920 Expressionist film[5]
  • 2008: So There and Orange Oranges, two short plays for the theatre, Festival of Independent Theaters, Dallas
  • 2009: Some People a theatre/media performance work, Out of the Loop Festival and Project X, Dallas
  • 2009: Andgena (The First), a devised performance work, Lul Theatre and Litooma, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, also conducted workshops at Addis Ababa University.
  • 2009: Orange Oranges play published by Sojourn Literary Journal[6]
  • 2009: Video Documentary Director and Editor, There is Never a Reference Point premiere Dallas Video Festival[7]
  • 2009-2010: Featured Performance Artist, "All the World's a Stage," Dallas Museum of Art[8]
  • 2010: Published Articles "Robot as Ritual Oracle and Fetish,[9]" University of Tartu (Estonia), "Performance of Body, Space and Place" chapter in Healing Collective Trauma, Springer Publishing[10]
  • 2010: Participated in the creation of Bina, a conversational robot for Hanson Robotics
  • 2010: PlayLab reading of new play TNB (Typical Nigga Behavior) Great Plains Theatre Conference and Workshop Instructor[11]
  • 2011 Blah Blah, writer, director, installations, Dead White Zombies, Dallas. Semi-Finalist, National Playwright's Conference
  • 2012 Flesh World writer, director, installations, Dead White Zombies, Dallas. Semi-finalist, National Playwright's Conference
  • 2012 (w)hole writer, director, installations, Dead White Zombies, Dallas
  • 2012 Ethiopia and Its Double article published by Theatre Forum Magazine
  • 2012 Rhythm Reality published, a chapter In Rhythms And Steps Of Africa, Studies on Comparative Aesthetics, volume 2: Studies On Anthropology And Aesthetics Of The African Dance, editor Wiesna Mond-Kozłowska.
  • 2012 Shadows in the Sun: Context, Process and Performance in Ethiopia, published, New Theatre Quarterly, Cambridge Univ. Press
  • 2012 At Play With the Dead White Zombies, an interview published in Arts and Culture, Dallas, December 2012-January 2013.
  • 2013 Lecture Series at Tribruvan University, Nepal. Performance workshop with Mandala Theatre, Kathmandu. Article, Kathmandu Post.
  • 2013 Performance Workshops, Pondicherry University, India. Research in Theru Koothu, Tamil folk performance.
  • 2014 Artist Residency, Halka Center, Istanbul, Turkey [6]
  • 2014 "Dead White Zombies, Dallas Texas" published in Theatre Forum, International Journal [7]
  • 2015 Lecture Series at Jishou University, China, research in Miao traditional performance [8], named Visiting Professor in Anthropology and Ethnography


  1. ^ Thomas Riccio (March 2003). Reinventing Traditional Alaska Native Performance. Edwin Mellen. ISBN 978-0-7734-6987-7. 
  2. ^ There is never a reference point review at, February 2006
  3. ^ Onassis Foundation prize announcement, October 2006
  4. ^ Peter Lang Publishing Announcement April 2007
  5. ^ Pegasus News Theatre Review November 2008
  6. ^ Sojourn Literary Journal December 2009
  7. ^ Dallas Video Festival Schedule November 2009
  8. ^ Dallas Museum of Art Video Excerpt October 2009 to February 2010
  9. ^ Transforming Culture in the Digital Age link April 2010
  10. ^ Springer Publishing link April, 2010
  11. ^ Great Plains Theatre Conference link April 2010

External links[edit]