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. His unique theater experience that integrates song, monologue, poetry, comedy, and dance, in a way that everyone can relate to-is a 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.
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-though 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- A Powerful Stage Play’, tackles the aftermath of years of domestic and substance abuse and follows one woman’s journey as she finds redemption.
Mr. Ricks has created an Artistic Development program, M.I.B. (Mentors Inspiring Boys & Girls) for youth ages 8-18, aimed to provide a creative outlet for youth, foster community building skills, and build their self-confidence. The program also spawned a reasonably priced summer camp, to give families, who normally could not afford summer camp an opportunity to flourish in a fun and safe environment. Through the M.I.B. program and summer camp, youth are given an opportunity to produce a variety show, showcasing their newfound skills.
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., and he was recognized as the July 2014 Time Warner Cable News’ Unsung Hero. His play, Black & Blues won the 2014 Roc Awards for Best Stage Play.
Overall, Mr. Ricks hope is that his continued youth advocacy work, on stage, in the classrooms and in the community, willbe the dose of reality desperately needed to overcome the litany of issues that plague our community.See Shows and Programs