Bruce Bryne and his 12 employees at Eastern Scenic Elements already have one major production under their belts.
In October, the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada presented the world premier of Don Juan. The set was built by Eastern Scenic Elements in Newfoundland over the summer. The show was on stage at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on Nov. 1, and is now touring across the country.
“The premiere was well received by an almost sold out audience, and received a standing ovation,” said Mr. Bryne. “This contract is paving the way for future productions to be fabricated in Newfoundland by Eastern Scenic Elements Ltd.”
Hard to believe that not so long ago, Mr. Bryne was attending business classes at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial’s Corner Brook campus, in the hopes of one day opening the first stagecraft workshop in Newfoundland.
Mr. Bryne, who also holds a fine arts degree in theatre (stagecraft) from Grenfell College, had already acquired a lot of experience while working with a stagecraft company in Alberta. He worked on many sets for famous producers such as Paramount Pictures and Disney. At one point he ran his own business by subcontracting work from a larger stagecraft company. Although he already had plenty of knowledge about his field of work, he needed support to secure a solid foundation before opening up his business. He found that support at Gateway West, an enterprise and entrepreneurship program located at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College,
“Gateway West really helped me develop a business plan,” said Mr. Bryne, who is currently the master carpenter shop supervisor for Grenfell’s theatre program. “I wanted to make my business idea a reality so I spoke to Mike Jackson, Gateway’s program co-ordinator, about it. When I started showing him costs, figures, numbers and contacts he understood that we could do something with this.”
Gateway West was a prime resource for Mr. Bryne in developing his business; the enterprise program supports and assists members of the Grenfell community in developing potential entrepreneurial ideas.
Like many little boys in Newfoundland, Bruce Bryne always had a project in the happenings. Making sleds and erecting cabins quickly led Mr. Bryne to develop a passion for building and creating.
“I originally wanted to go in engineering,” said Mr. Bryne, “but I got waitlisted, so I did general studies and in the second semester, I got into acting.”
One day while attending a stage craft class, he started cutting a circle with a table saw, which is usually used to cut straight lines. The technical director was incredulous, since he had “people graduating that can’t do that!”
Mr. Bryne has been involved in the stagecraft industry ever since. While he was in school he became the head carpenter of Theatre Newfoundland Labrador. In Alberta he joined forces with a prominent stage crafting company. Now he is the master carpenter shop supervisor at Grenfell and the proud owner of Eastern Scenic Elements.
“If you think your idea is too farfetched or ridiculous, you are on to something special,” he said, adding that Gateway is great resource, but be prepared to roll up your sleeves. “People have ideas every minute of the day. Gateway West is not there to do it for you. They are there to guide you. In the end it falls on the individual.”