For over 21 years, Robert Ricks has worked with numerous organizations including Writers & Books, the Rochester City School District, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and Kumba Consultants teaching theater and creative writing to youth. Mr. Ricks has mastered the art of weaving tales that touch and change lives forever. His unique theater experience integrates song, monologue, poetry, comedy, and dance in a way that everyone can relate to and is his point of pride.
'My Voice,' 'Balance,' 'A Star Sprouted' and 'Nothing Redder Than The Beautiful Sunset'are just a few of his many collections of poetry and short story collaborations composed with Rochester’s youth.
'The Streets Are Talking', 'Rated Real' and 'Resurrection of Hip Hop'are three of the stage plays that he co-authored and co-directed with youth. Mr. Ricks works have been well received by diverse audiences. In 2003, Writers & Books honored him with the “Teacher of Young People” award. Over the years, Ricks has garnered numerous awards and accolades from Rochester’s youth-based organizations for his contributions and commitment. Most recently, Mr. Ricks was awarded the 2014 Man of the Year Award by the National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women’s Clubs Inc. He was also recognized as the July 2014 Time Warner Cable News’ Unsung Hero. His play, Black & Blues, won the 2014 Roc Awards for Best Stage Play.
His first novel, ‘Mastermind’ was released nationally in January 2006, followed in 2009 with ‘Bastards and Bastresses.' Both centered on the issues facing today’s young people although written for adult audiences. His first play, Down in the Dirt, conveys the story of inner-city pain; youth violence, absentee parents, the disease of addiction, teen pregnancy, hope, and the endless possibilities that reside in our tomorrows. Down in the Dirt was performed and embraced at several venues in the Upstate New York, as well as local high schools and colleges such as Monroe Community College, St. John Fisher College, SUNY Potsdam, and Nazareth College.
Robert’s second stage production, ‘Where are you Lord- A Grandmother’s Prayer’ merges two worlds, the spiritual and the natural. It delves into alcoholism, drug addiction, youth violence, absent parents and over-taxed grandparents. This well-received production toured several cities. In 2012, Mr. Ricks presented the musical ‘Generational Curses, A Dream Deferred-NOT DENIED’ which explores some of the issues afflicting our community that are passed down from one generation to the next. This production holds up a mirror and forces some to look at themselves. You will laugh, cry and be inspired to grow and change. Mr. Ricks’ fourth play to hit the stage, ‘Black & Blues’, addresses the subject of domestic and substance abuse as we follow one woman’s journey as she searches for a new way of life.
Mr. Ricks has created an artistic development program, MIB&G (Mentors Inspiring Boys & Girls) for youth ages 8-18. His aim is to provide a creative outlet for young people to build their self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth; an overall healthy sense of self.
Mr. Ricks hope is that his continued youth advocacy work on the stage, in the classrooms and in the community will be the dose of reality desperately needed to overcome the litany of issues that plague our community.