The Dynamics of Ritual: A Global Perspective on the Universal Elements – Thomas Riccio

How does ritual work? What are the active elements and dynamics that lend ritual its transformative power, that allows us to go further and deeper? Riccio’s work with shamanic and indigenous groups around the world afford him a global perspective on these universal elements. Riccio analyses what he has witnessed first hand in a wide range of spiritual practices, and applies in his theatre work. What frames of reference are set up, and how? What is the narrative sequence, and relation to theatre and performance? What cultural and archetypal roles are evoked, what spiritual and societal duties fulfilled? How is the audience prepped to enter the safe container of the sacred space, and set up expectations?

Wisdom is a gift of ritual, it provides the power to ground and stabilize us, keep us focused and purposeful. Wisdom is the unfolding of our consciousness, in which we drop the search for answers, and embrace the great mystery of life.

Riccio’s theatre work has taken him around the world. As Professor of Theatre at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and Director of Tuma Theater, an Alaska Native performance group, he devised and directed several performances. This work served as a template, combining ethnography, drama therapy, aesthetic production, activism, education, and cultural development, for work with numerous indigenous groups worldwide. He continued this work in ritual and indigenous performance, creating performances and conducting research in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Russia, Alaska, Korea, India, Nepal, with the !Xuu Bushmen and the Miao of China. The Republic of Sakha in Siberia declared Riccio a “Cultural Hero.”

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