Continuing our exploration of the shamanic origins and transcendent power of live theatre, Thomas Riccio returns with a report on his work with the Miao’s shamanic rites in the mountains of southern China, his recent projects in Prague and Zeus Island, Greece, and how he uses ritual trance postures to explore and work up a performance expression. Thomas writes:
Deep in the mountains of southwestern China a spiritual tradition said to be thousands of years old still flourishes among the Miao people. It is a tradition that combines ritual and trance to balance and sustain a community of humans, spirits, gods, and ancestors. Both ritual and trance work to transcend physical reality to reveal, articulate, and reaffirm the structures and spiritual forces that surround and influence the material world. At the center of the Miao spiritual practice is the badai (father offspring) and the xianniang (transcendent maiden). The badai, who are male, are healers, diviners, and masters of an elaborate system of rituals. Although they do not trance in a classic shamanic sense, their sensorial rituals enact a dramatic journey into the spiritual world for their community creating a collective, trance. The xianniang, who are female, do trance, and work in conjunction with badai, conferring with spirits and ancestors to determine the need and timing of the badai rituals. Together they provide the yin-yang, a balance of male and female energy to maintain and balance their village. This talk will outline their working methodologies and how they uniquely serve and sustain their human and spiritual communities to this day.
Hosted by Laura Lee and Paul Robear. Conversation4Exploration, Conversation 4 Exploration, Conversation for Exploration, Cuyamungue: Felicitas D. Goodman Institute, The Laura Lee Show