Thomas Riccio

Professor - Arts And Humanities

Professional Preparation

M.F.A. - MFA in Theatre Education
Boston University - 1982
B.A. - English
Cleveland State University - 1978

Research Areas

Areas of Specialization

Performance Studies, Media Performance and Installation; Indigenous Performance; Ritual and Shamanism; Acting, Stage Directing, Dramaturgy, and Theatre Theory, Literature and Criticism.


Narrative of Place, Theatre Communications Group, Summer 2015 2015 - Publication
Dead White Zombies, Dallas TX Article, Theatre Forum, Vol. 45, 66-80, Summer 2014 2014 - Publication
Collective (Re)Creation Reclamation, Reaffirmation, and Redefinition Chapter in Collective Creation in Contemporary Performance, 195-209 Palgrave, 2013 2013 - Publication
Ethiopia and its Double Article, Theatre Forum, Vol. 41, 46-55, Summer 2012 2012 - Publication
Shadows in the Sun: Context, Process, and Performance in Ethiopia Essay, New Theatre Quarterly (NTQ), Vol. 28, Pt. 3, 272-295, August 2012 2012 - Publication
Robot: Ritual Oracle and Fetish In Transforming Culture in a Digital Age, Tartu University, Estonia, 391-396, 2010 2010 - Publication
Orange Oranges One act play in Sojourn Literary Journal University of Texas at Dallas, Autumn 2009 2009 - Publication
Performing Body, Space and Place: Creating Indigenous Performance in Healing Collective Trauma Using Sociodrama and Drama Therapy, Springer Publications, December 2009 2009 - Publication
Rhythm Reality in Rhythm Steps of Africa, Jagielonian University Press, Kracow (in Polish) 2008 2008 - Publication
Performing Africa: Re-Mixing Tradition, Theatre, and Culture Peter Lang Publishing, Berlin and New York. 2007, 244 pages. ISBN 0-8204-8899-2 2007 - Publication


Visiitng Professor
Jishou University [2016–Present]
Visiting Professor
Pondicherry University [2013–2018]
Professor of Performance and Aesthetic Studies
University of Texas at Dallas [2003–Present]
Visiting Professor
University of Dar es Salaam [1999–2018]
Visiting Professor
California Institute of Integral Studies [1997–2018]
Visiting Professor
Korean National University of the Arts [1996–2018]
Associate Professor
University of Alaska Fairbanks [1995–2001]
Department Head
University of Alaska Fairbanks [1995–1999]
Assistant Professor
University of Alaska Fairbanks [1988–1995]
Artistic Director
Organic Theatre Company, Chicago, IL [1985–1988]

Additional Information

Performance and Research Projects
  • Miao Culture Bureau, Jishou County, Hunan, China

    Research in Miao Folk Performance and Ritual. Supported By The Xiangxi Cultural Bureau and Jishou University. December-January 2002-03. Research Fieldwork With Badai (spirit healers and Nuo folk performance. Initial research begun 2001. Project continuation December 2015 - January 2016 and ongoing


    Tamil Nadu, India

                Initial Research conducted in Terukoothu, Tamil folk performance tradition, February-  March 2013


    Lul Theater, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Artist-In-Residence, conducting workshop and developed a workshop production; conducted research on indigenous performance and spiritual practices. A Litooma Project, Fall 2009


    Kenya, Tanzania, and Burkina Faso

    Performance research and workshops; sponsored by The East Africa         Theatre           Association, Community Health Awareness Puppet Program, and FITMO. 1999-2002


    !Xuu And Khwe Cultural Project, Lower Kalahari Desert, South Africa & Namibia

    Workshops and field research with the !Xuu and Khwe Bushmen. A Litooma Project, Summer 1994


    Center For The Arts, Lusaka, Zambia

    Director/Choreographer Imipashi, and Workshop instructor. A Litooma Project to revitalized traditional Zambian performance. February-May 1994


    Natal Performing Arts Council, Durban, South Africa

    Director/choreographer and performer: Makanda Mahlanu. Director, Hlanganani Project. Production tour of 51 performances throughout Natal and Zululand. A Litooma Project, August-December 1993


    Sakha National Theatre, Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha (Siberia)

    Workshop instructor and director/choreographer, Sardaana. Included extensive travel and field research in the Shamanistic traditions of Sakha.  A Litooma Project, May-August 1993


    Tuma Theatre, Fairbanks, Alaska

    Artistic director/instructor Alaska Native performance program. Travel, academic research, and fieldwork throughout Alaska.  Director and Choreographer of seven Tuma Theatre productions.  1989-1998


    Kwasa Group, The Natal Performing Arts Council, Durban, South Africa 

    Director/Choreographer, Emandulo (The Ancient One). Performed 28 times in South Africa. A Litooma Project, Spring 1992


    Metamorphosis Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia

    Workshops and director/choreographer: Shadows From The Planet Fire. Performed Baltic Theatre, St. Petersburg, and Russian, Ukraine, and Bulgaria tour. A Litooma Project, Summer 1992


    Springs Theatre, Holstebro, Denmark

    Conducted performance workshops for a refugee Tamil group; co-Directed King Harichandra (based on a Hindu legend) A Litooma Project, Spring –Summer 1992


    Tùkak' Teatret, Fjaltring, Denmark

    Guest artist and workshop instructor in movement, Alaskan Eskimo dance and drumming, a Litooma project, Summer 1992


    World Eskimo-Indian Olympics at the University of Alaska Museum, Fairbanks

    Writer/director/choreographer, Northern Inua, a demonstration performance of traditional Alaska Native Games. Summers 1989-1995 and 1997-2003

Stage Directing

Stage Directing

Professional & Semi-Professional


Dead White Zombies, Dallas, Texas

DP92 Writer and Installations

Karaoke Motel Writer and Installations

Bull Game, Writer and Design

T.N.B., Playwright and installations

(w)hole, Writer and Installations

Flesh World, Writer and Installations

blahblah, Playwright and Design


Project X, Dallas, Texas

            Some People, Playwright and Set Design

                        Premiere: Water Tower Theatre 2009 Out of the Loop Festival

            So There, (one act), Playwright and Set Design

Orange Oranges, (one act), Playwright and Set Design

            Premiere: 2008 Festival of Independent Theatres, Dallas


StoryLAB, Dallas, Texas

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, playwright 

                  voted Top Ten productions in DFW for 2008 by Pegasus News

Alpha Male, Playwright

            Kartasi: The Traveler, Playwright

There Is Never A Reference Point, Playwright, Devised

                  produced in collaboration with Project X


Organic Theater Company, Chicago

Little Caesar, Adapter/Playwright                                               

The Conduct of Life, by Marie Irene Fornes   

Titus Andronicus, by Wm. Shakespeare (featuring John C. Reilly)

Betawulf, Playwright, Devised                               

Rubber City, Playwright                                                     

The Stranger in Stanley's Room, by George Freek       

Kiss It Good-Bye, by M. Miner & Scott Jacobs  

Akron, Playwright


The Cleveland Play House

Bosoms and Neglect, by John Guare                    

Christmas on Mars, by Harry Kondoleon 

End of the World, by Arthur Kopit                      

Sea Marks, by Gardner McKay                     


Teatro Di Roma, National Theatre Of Italy

            Il Ronzio Della Moche, by Dario D'ambrosi         


Sakha National Theatre, Yakutsk, Russia (Siberia)

            Sardaana, Devised


La Mama ETC, New York City

            La Mulata, by Estaban Fernandez                           

            The Buzzing of Flies, by Dario D'ambrosi


Le Boursedes Artistes, Zurich, Switzerland & European Tour

            The Big Deal, Playwright with Leslie Felbain                               


New York Theatre Workshop, New York City

            The Grand Hysteric, by Sheldon Rosen                

The Box, by Sheldon Rosen (Featuring David Hyde Pierce)


American Theater of Actors, New York City

            Leather Heart, by Frank Megna     


Publick Theatre, Boston

            The Country Wife, by William Wycherly


Playwrights Platform, Boston

            The Body Parts, by Matt Witten (with dancer, Lawrence Goldhuber)     


Cabaret Dinner Theater, Cleveland

            Follies: The Better Than Nude Revue, Playwright      


Fairbanks Drama Association

         Athena, (World Premiere) by Jason Hodges

            Pipedreams (and state wide tour), Playwright

            Why The Lord Come To Sand Mountain, by R. Linney   


Tuma Theatre (Alaska Native), Fairbanks, Alaska

Utetmun (Going Home), by Paul Jumbo

The Child From The Sea, Devised

Qayaq: The Magical Man, Devised

The Eagle's Gift, Devised

Inua, Devised

Naam/Gen Eehu, by Evelyn Alexander (Athabaskan elder)

Yup’ik Arnaq, by Theresa John (Yup’ik elder)


Lul Theatre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Andegna (The First) Ensemble Developed


Natal Performing Arts Council, Durban, South Africa (Nat’l Theatre)

         Makanda Mahlanu, Devised


Kwasa Group, South Africa

         Emandulo, Devised


Metamorphosis Theatre at Baltic Theatre, Russia, St. Petersburg, Ukraine, Ural Region tour

            Shadows From The Planet Fire, Devised


Center For The Arts, Lusaka, Zambia

            Imipashi (The Spirits), Devised


Karamu House, Cleveland, Ohio

            City Cuts, Devised


Cleveland Laboratory Theater

            Betawulf, Devised


Dallas Museum of Art

         Dada Cabaret, Devised

Personal Statement

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; Artistic Director, Chicago's Organic Theater Company; Resident Director, Cleveland Play House; Assistant Literary Director, American Repertory Theatre; Visiting Professor, University of Der es Salaam, University of Pondicherry (India), University of Nairobi, and the Korean National University for the Arts; Jishou University (Hunan, China); 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, and the National Theatre of Italy. 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, Vietnam, and the Republic of Sakha (Siberia), which declared him a “Cultural Hero.” Notable projects include devising/directing a performances in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2009), the !Xuu Bushmen of the lower Kalahari (1994), the Zulu of South Africa (1992 and 1993), and a nationwide touring performance in Zambia (1994). He is working on a long term research and performance project with the Miao, an ethnic minority group in western China (2015-18) which will culminate with a large scale devised performance with traditional healers . Riccio has conducted workshops and given lectures and workshops throughout the world, most notably at the national theatre schools of Poland, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia. 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 and was a Narrative Engineer for Hanson Robotics. His photographs, videos, and installations have been exhibited in a variety of galleries. He is the Artistic Director of Dead White Zombies, a Dallas-based, post-disciplinary performance group, most recently designing/writing/directing performance immersions, T.N.B. (2013), kaRaoKe MoTeL (2014) and DP92 (2015). He was an artist in residence at the Watermill Art Center (2016) and is collaborating with Sibyl Kempson on a series of performance rituals at the Whitney Museum. &

News Articles

Professor Travels to India, Nepal to Study Traditional Performance
Thomas Riccio, professor of performance and aesthetic studies in the School of Arts and Humanities, recently visited Nepal and India to deepen his research on indigenous performance. “My visit to India and Nepal showed that the peoples of the two nations have sustained their ancient traditional and indigenous performance expressions into this century,” said Riccio.Riccio said that some customs, however, are threatened with extinction due to globalization and environmental challenges. In Nepal and India, Riccio lectured at Tribuvan University, which is the national university in Nepal’s cities of Pokhara and Katmandu, where he also held a workshop for the Mandala Theatre.
Prof Presents Third Play in Original Drama Series
Arts & Humanities Professor Thomas Riccio’s newest play, Some People, will premiere at WaterTower Theatre’s “Out of the Loop” Festival on March 11. The cast is comprised almost exclusively of UT Dallas students and alumni. Some People is the third installment of the Simulations series dealing with life in and around the Dallas area. It will be performed three times at the WaterTower Theater and then transfer to the Project X Theatre for a three-weekend run. Some People takes a surrealistic journey into the subconscious of the house next door. In an ordinary Dallas suburb, a husband, wife and child one day find that they live in a house that has come to life. It begins when Frank, the father and a software systems analyst with an anger management issue, begins to hear the voice of the Narrator. The Narrator has come to synchronize the house in order to make all the family’s dreams come true. In order to do so, the world shifts into another dimension where time, space and reality become negotiable.
The Weirdest Theatre Mind in Dallas
It's the Monday after closing night, and the director is cleaning up the last set pieces from his performance space. There are video-game consoles stacked in the bathroom, disconnected security cameras hanging from the ceiling, and a pair of blank-loaded pistols that, thankfully, he just a moment earlier removed from the coffee table and boxed up. There's a pounding at the door now and the director answers it, thinking it's his production manager coming back to retrieve something he forgot. It's not. It's seven Dallas police officers. Three of them have guns drawn. And they appear very confused that standing there in the doorway of a notorious West Dallas crack house is not the just-as-notorious drug dealer they were hoping to find but a confused-looking theater director, wondering what's happening. "Hi," the director says calmly. "What can I do for you?" "Y'all can go on in and wander around. The show will start soon," Lori McCarty, the producing director of T.N.B., says to the crowd as she opens the twin glass doors. The audience shuffles from the patio into the dining room. From there they move either into the den, where a white man in a ski mask stands in the corner working a small DJ table, or the kitchen, where a black woman is tidying up and tending to a Crock-Pot of greens. Every room has a projector streaming footage from the security cameras in the other three rooms. An audience member is sitting on a stool when a black man in a ski mask slams the door next to her open and shut, and then falls against it sobbing. She freezes mid-squat with her eyes wide and lips pulled down, in a what-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-be-doing frown. The man runs past her to the window, slipping on the carpet, and crushes open the venetian blinds. That's Spooky. He's our hero. Spooky starts yelling at Roosevelt, the white man in the other room. We quickly learn that they are twin brothers. The brothers yell back and forth, and where Spooky is angry, Roosevelt is cartoony. He flops around the rooms like Cosmo Brown in Singin' in the Rain and calls Spooky "Paula Deen" whenever he says "nigga." The crowd doesn't know yet why Spooky is so angry or what he fled before he ran into this house, but they're all clutching beer bottles or plastic cups of wine and staring either at him or his image on the screen, and occasionally each other.
U.T. Dallas Expands Its Theatre Program With Appointment of Educator-Director Riccio
RICHARDSON, Texas (June 16, 2003) - The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) is expanding its theatre program for the 2003-04 academic year with the hiring of Thomas Riccio, who is widely recognized for his work on multicultural theatre projects as both an educator and a director.

Riccio is joining UTD as a professor of theatre, and starting in late August, he will begin working with other arts faculty at the university in the areas of theatre, music and dance to build a performance program that will be incorporated into the overall interdisciplinary goals of UTD's School of Arts and Humanities. He also will help develop new curriculum and will meet with Dallas area theatre leaders in an effort to bring unique cultural productions to the Metroplex.
Kartasi, a Collaborative ‘Phantasm,’ To Open At U. T. Dallas on Nov. 5
RICHARDSON, Texas (Oct. 5, 2004) —Kartasi, written and directed by Thomas Riccio, will open at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) University Theatre on Friday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m. The innovative and highly experimental show will run until Nov. 14, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. 

According to Riccio, professor of performance studies at UTD, Kartasi is the first of many, upcoming collaborations between UTD’s performance area and the university’s Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering.