In Memoriam: Israel Hicks, Founding Artistic Director of Ebony Repertory Theatre (1943-2010)
Israel Hicks, Founding Artistic Director of Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT), died Saturday, July 3 after a valiant battle with prostate cancer. He was 66.
Mr. Hicks was the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Ebony Repertory Theatre, the resident company and operator of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, a role he assumed in 2007. Most recently, Mr. Hicks staged ERT’s annual Celebration of Black History: A Journey In Four Parts: History, Love, Men, and Women. He received the 2009 NAACP Theatre award for his direction of ERT’s inaugural production of August Wilson’s Two Trains Running (Ovation Award winner, Best Play and NAACP Theatre Award winner, Best Production). Mr. Hicks also directed the critically acclaimed Los Angeles premiere of the hit musical, Crowns.
“The American theatre has been made better because Israel Hicks lived. Words cannot express my depth of love for this extraordinarily brilliant man,” said Wren T. Brown, Founder and Producer, Ebony Repertory Theatre. “He was a masterful, collaborative maker of theatre. The entire ERT family has been immeasurably blessed and fortunate to have worked alongside this gifted man of grace, generosity, gravity, vision and profound artistry. His love of actors was unparalleled. He was an artist whose work will live on through the many actors, students and designers with whom he worked and taught. The humanity in his artistry and commitment to his profession have left an indelible impression on the artistic and educational landscape of America and beyond.”
In addition to his role at Ebony Repertory Theatre, Mr. Hicks was Chair and Artistic Director for the Theater Arts Department at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. He previously served as Dean for the Conservatory of Theater Arts and Film, Purchase College, State University of New York and the Associate Director at the Denver Theater Center Company. Mr. Hicks was guest director for the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center from 1996-1999, and served on the Fullbright Scholar Selection Committee in 1998.
He is survived by his second wife, Renee Harriston-Hicks. He was preceded in death by first wife, Catherine, and daughter, Victoria.