For the last six weeks, Ruth Bruhn has probably been the hardest-working 23-year-old theatre professional in Vancouver. She’s pulling double duty, finishing up the season at Bard on the Beach as assistant stage manager and settling into her new role as the production manager at Green Thumb Theatre. “As we say at our weekly check-ins, I haven’t cried at work yet,” Bruhn says with a laugh, sitting inside the Green Thumb meeting room, her dog, Stella, lying at her feet.
Bruhn is a quick study, but she was also predisposed to the craft. Her mother was a stage manager at the Playhouse before Bruhn was born, and in Grade 10 she talked her way into Gateway Theatre, first as a “child wrangler” and then as an apprentice.
“I was ‘little Ruthie’ who ran around, and I did about five or six shows with them before I went to Studio 58 for production,” Bruhn says. After graduation, she secured an apprenticeship at Bard and was hired back the following two seasons. She also stage-managed the East Van Panto, but it was Green Thumb’s touring production of Alone Together that changed everything.
“They got to know me and I got to know them, and then when this [production manager] position came about, I was like, ‘Hey, guys, I know I’m super unqualified but I’d love this opportunity,’ ” Bruhn says with a laugh.
Bruhn has been involved in stage management for a third of her life, but she “100 percent” had to prove herself because of her age.
“Even just talking with the scene shops and dealing with the maintenance of the vans and trying to negotiate with people who know I don’t fully know what I’m talking about yet,” she explains. “But it’s just keeping that conversation going with them, like, ‘Hey, I’m learning, but you’re not going to be able to take advantage of me.’ ”
Green Thumb has two shows hitting the road this fall: Not So Dumb by John Lazarus and Jabber by Marcus Youssef. The former is headed to elementary schools, while the latter is touring high schools. “Green Thumb is conversation starters for youth,” Bruhn says. “Even if it’s just one kid who’s like, ‘I didn’t even know what I was feeling was that,’ and is able to talk to somebody about it, that’s another big reason why I wanted to work here.”More