Enron by Lucy Prebble

Act 1

Scene 1: Mark-To-Market Party, 1992

A party in a small office at Enron. Present are: Employees drinking champagne; Claudia Roe, a very attractive blonde woman of forty in a short skirt. She sticks close to the most powerful man in the room – Ken Lay, an easy, convivial man in his sixties, greeting and acknowledging every employee with practised southern hospitality; Andy Fastow, a nervy, lupine guy in his thirties, is circling with an unsettling grin.
Fastow is on the outskirts of the group of Employees, trying to ingratiate himself.
Fastow Quite a party.
Lay and Roe glide by this group, despite Fastow's outstretched hand.
Fastow
(one eye on Lay)
Just. It's great news. About mark-to-market.
Fastow Look, even Ken Lay's here.
Fastow You think he plays golf?
Lay magnanimously greets another couple of starstruck employees. He's like an avuncular politician.
Fastow Where's the guy who put this thing together?
Fastow Jeff Skilling.
Fastow The mark-to-market guy.
Fastow Maybe he's not a big party guy.
Fastow Actually I always thought we would.
Outside the party, Skilling straightens his suit, his hair. He looks like a bespectacled, overweight, balding accountant. He takes a deep breath.
He enters the party and finds himself a drink for confidence.
Fastow You can't get Lay away from Claws there. It's like she's his carer.
Fastow Yeah. You think I should?
Fastow He's just a guy, I'm a guy.Yeah. This is how things happen!
Roe goes over to collect Skilling.
Fastow strides over to introduce himself to Lay.
Fastow Hi there, Mr Lay.
Fastow No sir, I wish I was, I'm Andy –
Fastow Yes sir!
Roe drags Skilling over to Lay.
Lay slaps Skilling on the back.
Fastow I just wanted to say congratulations – mark-to-market, much more appropriate, much more transparent. Exactly the right thing.
Fastow Sorry. Andy, Andy Fastow, you hired me –
Fastow Mark-to-market's the accounting system for all the big investment banks / on Wall Street.
Fastow No, no, you see –
Fastow Mark-to-market lets us show the future / profits. / Hugely liberating –
Fastow exhales and glances at the group of employees who had teased him.
Fastow I've talked to some people, I don't know …
He takes it upon himself to clink his glass to get everyone's attention. It's a surprise. Any speech would be deemed to be Lay's job.
Fastow They'll have to have their own ideas.
Skilling turns and walks back to Lay, Roe and Fastow.
Skilling downs his drink.
We see projections of the joys and stability of the 1990s.
Bill Clinton, the break-up of the Soviet Union, Microsoft, the Internet and the rise of the home computer and Intel, Friends, Nelson Mandela's election, images of Arnie in Terminator 2.
An Employee comes forward to speak to us.

Scene 2: Afterparty

In a corporate boardroom, high up, Skilling and Roe finish having clothed, quick sex.
He is doing his trousers up. Roe is pulling down her skirt and straightening herself.
Beat.
They look out of a window over Houston.
Beat.
Beat.
Beat.
Beat.
Beat.
Roe smiles.
Skilling shakes his head.
She eyes him.
Skilling gets a tissue out of his pocket. Roe takes it and gently wipes all the way up her inner leg, wiping off the ejaculate that has run down her thigh.
She tosses the Kleenex away deliberately casually and confidently strides from the office.

Scene 3: Ken Lay's Office, 1996

In another office, Ken Lay sits with Roe and Skilling sitting before him.
Pause. Lay leans back.
The competitors look at each other.
Beat.
Roe makes a 'see?' gesture
Silence.
Lay considers the younger man and his presumption.
Skilling tries to maintain his dignity and leaves. Lay takes Roe's hand.
As Roe's dreams are shattered, Skilling's dreams are made real.
The transformation of Enron. From discreet, regular offices, Skilling and Lay oversee it becoming an open-plan, free, shiny expanse.
It should feel like a physical liberation; a clearing of clutter.
Skilling and Lay shake hands.
Skilling looks down at the Enron he envisioned beneath him: glass, reflective surfaces, futuristic design, open spaces, a huge trading floor.

Scene 4: An Orgy Of Speculation

Magical music.
Above us somewhere there is a twinkle of gold. And then another of silver somewhere else. And then more – commodities like stars in the sky.
The sound of singing, each their own different song. It builds to an atonal babble of commodity prices and bids. It's a musical cacophony of the trading floor. Over time, the voices all conjoin to meet in a pure, single note. It is beautiful.
The gold glints somewhere in the auditorium.
The voices and notes become an atonal mess again. Eventually blending to everyone singing a single note and price.
A shimmer from aluminum.
And again the clamour builds up before finding a commodity value in one distinct harmony.
They split again into babble.
This empty, beautiful purity in Skilling's head is interrupted by the reality of the Traders' arrival.
The Traders flood the stage. The stock price rises.
The chaos, the physicality, the aggression and shouting of a trading floor. This simmers to doing deals, buzzing on phones and computers making money. Overlap is fine.
A melee of sound and trading and speculation into –
Trader 5 whistles the loss.
Suddenly, Fastow enters, all smooth self-importance. All the Traders react mockingly.
Fastow Yeah, hi. You gotta help with some figures. The electricity retail market.
Fastow I'm here on behalf of Jeff Skilling.
One of the Traders makes a 'whoo' noise.
Fastow Just get me whatever numbers you've got on electricity suppliers you trade with, that's your fucking job.
Fastow goes for Trader 2, physically. He gets right in his face, aggressively.
Fastow I don't have time for you to be whoever the fuck you are!
Fastow Don't tell me what I got to do.
Fastow touches him.
Fastow I'm very serious.
Trader 2 shoves Fastow, who squares right up to him, fearless.
He moves in to break it up.
Fastow is pulled away.
Fastow I want that recorded.
Fastow watches, pleased. Trader 2 reaches into his pockets and doles out a whole heap of bills on the floor.
Trader 2 swings around and hits Fastow, who, not expecting this, scrambles out of the way into other Traders, who all take a pop at him. Other Traders mock and physically berate him. One shows him his penis.
Fastow (That's illegal.)
As Fastow beats a hasty retreat he tries to maintain some dignity.
Fastow I'll remember that when I'm CFO.
He exits.
The bell rings for end of trading.
Improvisation of trading at its highest pitch.
Market closes.
Trader 1 is delighted, sweating, filled with testosterone and joy.
Lights of commodity prices over the faces of all the Traders, a sea of figures.

Scene 5: Trimming The Fat

The sound of motorbikes revving, screeching brakes, the hum of manly pursuits.
Split scene.
Below: Enron gym. Skilling is on a running machine, in sports clothes. He's pushing himself and relishing the physical challenge.
Above: Ken Lay's office. Lay and Roe are meeting.
Below: Fastow enters the gym with trepidation in a suit.
Fastow You want me to go wait somewhere?
He gestures to the running machine beside him. Fastow, nervous, takes off his shoes and jacket and gets on the machine.
Skilling immediately ups it to a run for Fastow.
Fastow I'm sorry I screwed up Electricity.
Fastow Yeah. I tried, I really –
Fastow I –
Fastow I won't be mocked.
He can't help smiling a little. He ups Fastow's speed. Fastow tries to keep up.
Fastow Yeah, I –
Fastow I don't know it –
Fastow Am I getting fired, Jeff?
He ups Fastow's speed again.
Fastow redoubles his efforts.
Fastow Please don't fire me!
Fastow That we're just animals?
Fastow Use it for what?
Fastow Like self-interest and competition?
Above:
He passes it to Roe.
Below:
Fastow I'm gonna have a heart attack.
Fastow I'm sorry I fucked up electricity!
Fastow I'm sorry I fucked up electricity!
Fastow I'm sorry!
Skilling presses the stop button on Fastow's running machine, hurling the younger man from his treadmill.
Fastow regains his balance and composure as Skilling calmly slows his own speed.
An exhausted Fastow agrees physically while he pants.
Fastow Yes! Deregulate electricity and that market's ours.
Fastow That's great. So I can keep my job?
Beat.
Fastow Yeah, I am.
Fastow Yeah.
Fastow Thank you. Yeah. I won't let you down.
Above:
Beat.
As Lay says 'share price' the share price is revealed; a figurative representation of the company's worth, represented by light somewhere on stage.
An Analyst enters and speaks to us.
The analysts are Sheryl Sloman of Citigroup, J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank. All follow Skilling, enraptured.
As he walks around the space, various Employees approach Skilling with contracts for him to approve and sign. He smoothly signs though barely looks at them, treating them like autographs.
The Analysts line up and face the audience.
Citigroup Analyst, after a drum roll, reveals her verdict:
The stock goes up.
The stock goes up.
The stock goes up.
It's reached half of its full height. Skilling looks genuinely touched by this.
The Analysts become a barbershop quartet and sing.
The Analysts parade off.
He's delighted by his power and effect. Grinning at the recognition and level of belief.
Lay comes down and approaches his protégé.
He hands Skilling a fifty-dollar bill.

Scene 6: Time Is Money

A memory.
Skilling's Daughter appears somewhere high up, not close to him.
She doesn't know, she fidgets.
His Daughter fades into the dark.
The counting continues into:
Physical sequence. The company at work. The Traders dance. As they do they create a round table. Skilling holds meetings around it. People come and go. Meetings end and begin. The table is removed. Fast, ordered, fluidity. Numbers fly through the air. The stock price throbs, but never alters much, gradually edging up in comforting, rhythmic pulses. Lay plays golf somewhere in bright sunlight. Time passes. Days and nights. Gradually a slowing. Computer lights over faces. A calm.
Eventually, Claudia Roe makes her way through the building to Skilling's office.

Scene 7: Skilling's Office

Skilling is watching the financial news.
Skilling turns the sound down on the television.
Skilling nods.
She waits for him to say it.
She nods. Beat.
Beat.
Beat.
She uses this as an excuse to look into his eyes.
She's deliberately close to his face. She puts her hands on his face.
Beat.
Beat. Skilling closes his eyes. He leans in.
Just then, over her shoulder, Skilling spots a massive graphic flash up on the screen showing the financial news – 'ENRON!'
Skilling spins around. Once he sees what she's referring to, he's just as excited as Roe. They both scrabble for the volume control. One gets there first and turns it up.
Skilling reacts to his name.
Beat.
She makes to leave.

Scene 8: An Unholy Partnership

Below, darkly, Fastow's lair: a dingy place at the bottom of Enron. Fastow flits happily between complex piles of paperwork, records and maybe screens.
Fastow (to us) I don't know if you're big fans of hedging. I can't see how you wouldn't be. A hedge is just a way of protecting yourself from risk. You literally hedge your bets. If you got a lot of money in airlines, for example, you might think, hey, this is all going really well, lots of people fly – my investment is safe and going up. But what happens if there's a huge airplane crash, maybe people die, oh no, folk get scared of flying and your stocks plunge. Well, the smart guy hedges his airline investment with – maybe – an investment in a car rental company. When air travel frightens people, they want to feel in control, they'll drive interstate. So when your airline shares go (noise and motion of plane crashing) , your car rental shares go (noise and motion of car brooming upwards.) So you never lose money. Whoop … whoop.
(He repeats the same gestures again, of a plane crashing, then the car brooming upwards. And then the upward car again. A beat. The crashing plane.)
With enough imagination you don't ever have to lose anything. When I write down everything that can possibly go wrong, as a formula. A formula I control. Nothing seems scary any more.
He goes back to his calculations.
Skilling enters.
Fastow (delighted) Yeah.
Fastow In my wallet.
Fastow starts looking for his wallet.
Fastow Oh man, it's down the hall. Shall I – ?
Fastow You really wanna –
Beat.
Fastow He's called Jeffrey.
Fastow Hey, who's done more for me in this world, you know?
Beat.
Fastow What?
Pause.
Fastow You get a good deal?
Skilling makes a so-so gesture and sound.
Fastow You know when you have a baby and it gets handed to you for the first time? I had this incredible, indescribable feeling – this defining realisation that in my life, from this point on – So. Many. Things could go. Wrong.
Fastow And I say that as a man who knows how to manage risk. Risk is just the fear of losing something. Risk is life, basically.
Beat.
He is looking at papers covered in complex scrawlings. Maybe they're half-screwed up.
Fastow (proud) Oh, these are the Raptors.
Fastow Financial models I'm –
Fastow Not as you'd normally understand them. But they're a way of managing risk. I'm playing with them. Just in my own time, just for …
Fastow (finds all three) Raptor One, Raptor Two, Raptor Three …
Fastow Like in Jurassic Park.
Fastow It's actually really well done.
Fastow Yeah. Like, you know, with hedging how – say you've got a lot of money in airlines –
Fastow OK, well, I've been seeing if there's a way of making a model that acts like the car rental company, without actually having to give my money to the car rental company.
Casually intrigued, Skilling looks through them all.
Fastow Well, that's the thing. A theoretical car rental company hedges your airline investment just as good as a real one does. On the books.
Fastow Yeah, but they almost certainly won't. It's crazy to have all this money flying out the door for things that probably won't happen. This model locks in the high value of your first investment. You own that, that's real.
Fastow Yeah … ?
Fastow beams.
Skilling is having some pain.
Fastow You OK?
Fastow What size are you? You want mine?
Fastow You like 'em? They're Italian.
Pause.
Fastow Great news about the stock price.
Nothing.
Fastow (excited) I got a beer.
He opens up a tiny fridge that's been installed somewhere in his office/lair.
Fastow Yeah, I just asked 'em. I called up and said. Came down same day. Put it in.
Fastow We did.
Fastow It's a long way up to the … thing.
They open and drink two beers.
Fastow There's losses.
Long pause.
Fastow How bad?
Fastow Always.
Pause.
Fastow Wow(!)
Fastow You're not kidding?
He has one hand up at neck level indicating the high perception and the other he puts lower to indicate the reality.
His arms droop despondently. Fastow dives in to hold the perception hand up.
Fastow Wait, you got a perception here, a reality here. You just need something for this to lean on while we bring this up.
Fastow brings Skilling's lower hand up to meet his higher hand.
Beat.
Skilling shakes off the foolish physical intimacy.
Fastow Hey. Fuck it. Two guys in a room. You want my help?
Beat.
Fastow How you doing with a Chief Financial Officer?
Fastow You considered everybody?
Fastow You considered me?
Fastow Yeah.
Fastow You really care about that?
Beat.
Fastow You ever had an affair? When you were married.
Fastow That's a yes.
Fastow No, OK, wait, that's wrong. You like porn?
Fastow I think porn could save every marriage in this country. As internet porn goes up, divorce rates gonna go way down –
He makes gesture of one thing going up as the other goes down.
That's the industry to get into, I'll say that …
Fastow I want to give Enron a mistress.
Fastow Having something off the books, even if it's Jenna Jameson in an unmarked folder, your virtual mistress – she supports your marriage, strengthens it. We can do the same for a company.
Fastow For those occasions we need to … 'offload'. We create a company that exists purely to fulfil Enron's needs.
Fastow We could push debt, we could push those losses into this other entity, sell it to this entity. So we make money and move a loss off the books, wait for it to turn to profit –
Fastow How would we know if they did?
Fastow I mean it! This is an area where we're expected to be creative. The regulations encourage it.
Fastow Maybe nobody has to invest. We can make the company ourselves. I could use these raptor models. To make a sort of shadow company. A virtual Enron.
Fastow Of course not. But. The rules state, if we're gonna do business with another entity, it has to be independent from us.
Fastow But. Here's the kicker. To qualify as independent it just means three per cent of its capital has to come from independent sources.
Fastow Yeah, so ninety-seven per cent of a whole shadow company could just be … Enron stock.
Fastow Sure.
Fastow is excitedy scoping out the room they are standing in.
Fastow Maybe. Look, say this entity, let's call it … LJM. If this room is LJM – it's filled with Enron stock, now we own that, we don't have to pay for and it's worth a great deal. But we need three per cent of it to be real. The equivalent of this desk.
He walks around clearing the area to make the three per cent clear.
Fastow What if this three per cent is a smaller entity, designed the same way, which itself is made up of Enron stock –
Fastow Yes, wait.
Fastow opens a drawer in the desk and takes out a shoebox that had housed his new Italian shoes. He places it on the desk.
Here. And this three per cent is an even smaller entity …
He opens up the shoebox.
Fastow Except for three per cent!
Out of the shoebox he produces a matchbox.
Fastow Until for all this to be real, for this huge shadow company to exist, all we actually need …
He opens the matchbox and takes out a tiny red, glowing box.
He holds it up. The men are bathed in it like some totem from an Indiana Jones film.
Fastow Is this …
Fastow Chump change. Few million.
Fastow Imagine what the whole structure is worth, what it could do for Enron.
Fastow (brandishing tiny box) Aaah, not entirely, this is what keeps it independent.
Fastow Yup –
Fastow Yes.
Beat.
Fastow It is, isn't it?
Fastow LJM. After my wife and kids, Lea, Jeffrey and –
Fastow It's just box after box after box. Russian dolls, until you get to …
The tiny box glows red and throbs.
Fastow And who's gonna notice something as small as this? How's something this tiny ever gonna cause any trouble?
Fastow And this is just a few million, hell, I could put that in.
Fastow Oh. OK.
Fastow The CFO?
Fastow (slightly surprised) Yeah, but don't we check with our accountants?
Arthur Andersen appears to one side. He has a ventriloquist's dummy, Little Arthur.
A different voice from his mouth:
Fastow
(to Skilling)
Well, maybe we just need a more sympathetic accountant.
Beat.
Arthur Andersen's dummy's eyes flit wildly.
Fastow That's what we pay a million dollars a month for?
The law firm of Ramsay and Hewitt appears to their other side: one male, one female. They appear as 'Justice'; blindfolded, with sword and scales.
And then, revealed on the level above Skilling and Fastow, the Board appear. The Board is made up of shadowy, dark, imposing figures with the heads of mice, and, in the centre, Ken Lay.
The Board briefly consult.
Fastow I will. I mean, I want to.
Fastow
(to Skilling)
You know you won't find anyone you can trust like you trust me.
Fastow is delighted at this.
Fastow OK.
He signs papers in front of him.
The Board, Arthur Andersen and Hewitt and Ramsay disappear. Fastow and Skilling hug in the centre of the circle.
Fastow It's good, isn't it?
Fastow Which makes LJM exist.
Fastow Which keeps the stock price up.

Scene 9: Party Like It's 1999

Flashes from cameras.
A media event becomes a party filled with Employees, Press and Analysts. It's a financial love-in.
Skilling is being photographed for yet another magazine cover as the dynamic CEO changing the world. The Photographer is beneath him to make him look impressive, god-like.
A Reporter interviews him.
The Reporter flirts a bit.
The stock price goes up.
Skilling is approached by Lay.
Above:
Concerned Employees approach Skilling.
Skilling slaps the employee on the back. He turns back to the press interview.
Lay applauds. The Employees are congratulated and sheepishly proud. The stock goes up hugely. Reaction is ecstatic, like a religious cult. Skilling is messiah-like.
A huge party: absurd, luxurious, delusional, the peak of bull-market excess. Skilling shakes hands with everyone, is treated like a movie star.
Just then, Roe makes a grand entrance to the party. Never one to be outshone, she is on a Harley motorbike, dressed entirely in leather.
She shows off the back on which is stitched 'ENRON'. Whoops of celebration. She removes the helmet, revealing herself, and shakes down her hair. Everyone loves it and all attention is lavished on her.
Above:
Roe turns on the party's big event – the lighting up of a huge neon display welcoming in the new year: 2000.
Below:
Fastow turns slowly around to see the other two Raptors have also taken corporeal form and have crept into LJM.
Fastow Clever girls.
Blackout.
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