Head and shoulders photograph of Ruth Johnson

Meet our Associate Artists: Ruth Mary Johnson, Theatre-Maker

From puppetry to print-making, Blue Cabin’s team of Associate Artists all specialise in using their artistic practice to help improve outcomes for care-experienced children and young people. 

Here’s an introduction to Ruth Mary Johnson, theatre-maker and Associate Artist.

Tell us a bit about you and your artistic practice. 

My name is Ruth and I love biscuits, my Greyhound, Jack, and I love stories! Reading them, telling them and, most of all, making them up! Stories of castles and kings, of lords and of rings, of spaceships and stars, of moonbeams in jars, of stories tall and stories small, and I fully believe that stories help the world go round. 

Sharing and creating stories with others is at the heart of my practice as a Theatre Maker who performs, directs and writes a whole range of stories. In my work as a Facilitator, I find the power of storytelling helps us to understand and make sense of the world around us and can bring people together in a shared sense of adventure!

Can you share a recent experience of using your skills with care-experienced children and young people? 

Through my work with Blue Cabin delivering All About Me sessions (part of Blue Cabin’s Creative Life Story Work programme), I have had the pleasure and the privilege of working alongside young people, aged from five years to 16 years old, to tell their stories. 

In our sessions, we become mini-Theatre Makers, building our own model theatres, creating the world of the story, creating the characters and performing the stories we want to tell about our lives through shadow puppetry. There is even an award ceremony where we create a mini origami auditorium, where young people can choose who in their lives they would like to invite to see them shine in the spotlight! 

The sessions are fun and practical with the creative tasks of building the stage and scenery, crafting puppets and making models, allowing space for the young people and their trusted adults to focus on the activity, whilst engaging in conversation about the themes of the sessions. 

As we are making a play, the very notion of PLAY is running through every element of our time together – we play games, we perform (sometimes without even knowing it) and we explore possibilities, thoughts and feelings in the safety of being held within a playful space. 

Young people have the choice whether to take part or not, to share or not to share and the rules of how we work together and support each other as a group are decided on by the young people.

What impact did you see this have on the children and young people?

Throughout my time delivering All About Me sessions, I have seen the confidence of the young people I work with grow and develop and they seem to find an opportunity to articulate their thoughts and feelings in a way that feels safe and supported. 

In each block of delivery, the support the young people and the adults in the room show for each other has been beautiful and respectful and we have never had a session where we have not had a gorgeous giggling moment together!

All About Me gives care-experienced young people space to play, to reflect, to ponder, to have fun and to make connections with other young people who may have experienced similar stories to themselves. This in itself, the strength of the group, is extremely potent and powerful and it has been an absolute pleasure to be part of it.

What are you looking forward to the most in your role as a Blue Cabin Associate Artist? 

Becoming an Associate Artist with Blue Cabin is something that makes me very proud. 

The scale and scope of the work the company does is astounding, yet the small details, which can make such a difference to the way a young person may encounter a creative experience, are held with as much importance as the bigger stuff. 

The care that runs through the company is very special and I feel I am playing a small part in work that is very big and important. I am looking forward to continuing to develop my work with care-experienced young people, with the support of Blue Cabin, who invest in every person involved in the process.

Tell us a bit more about what you like to do outside of your artistic work. 

Outside of my artistic practice, I love to spend time with my dog, Jack. He is a retired racing Greyhound and I love to spend time with him exploring the world and relaxing into his retirement – he is very good at relaxing, which is something I am learning from him!

Thank you Ruth! Find out who else is in Blue Cabin’s team of Associate Artists here, and visit Ruth’s website here