Enron by Lucy Prebble

Scene 3: Ken Lay's Office, 1996

Bill Clinton (on screen) I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie. Not a single time. Never.
In another office, Ken Lay sits with Roe and Skilling sitting before him.
Lay When was Enron born? Was it in 1901 when the first Texas oilfield was discovered and Houston became the original oil town? Was it 1938 when Congress passed the Natural Gas Act regulating the energy industry, or in the eighties when Reagan freed it again?
Roe I would –
Lay Most folk'd say in 1985 when I oversaw the merger between Houston Natural Gas and Internorth to become head of a new unnamed company.
Skilling Sure, that would be –
Lay In the past folks thought the basic unit of society would be the state, or the church or, Lord help us, the political party. But we now know it's the company. And the family. And those things should be the same. A place where a group of like-minded individuals work for the betterment of themselves and for those they love. I believe in God, I believe in democracy and I believe in the company.Now I think it's right for Rich to be leaving, I think it's the right decision. It does put me in the position of needing myself a president.
Skilling Yes.
Roe I imagine you'd want to indicate that Enron is not an old-fashioned, macho place to work.
Skilling 'Macho'. That's subtle.
Lay Where is our company going? I wonder which of you knows.
Pause. Lay leans back.
The competitors look at each other.
Beat.
Roe Ken, before he talks over me here I wanna say –
Skilling I want to build a trading floor –
Roe He doesn't have the skills to manage / people effectively –
Skilling / A different sort of company. Hire the best graduates, if they're not top two per cent we don't want 'em. Make Wall Street look like Sesame Street.
Roe / Jeff has trouble relating to others. He doesn't remember names. He called a client stupid.
Skilling What client?
Roe Fan Bridglen.
Skilling I have no idea who that is.
Roe makes a 'see?' gesture
Skilling You're a politician, Claud. I've never claimed to be.
Lay Some of my best friends are politicians.You wanna build a trading floor?
Skilling Yes sir.
Lay For trading?
Skilling Ask me what I want to trade.
Lay What were you gonna say, Claudia?
Roe My vision. The international energy company. Enron: delivering gas and oil to the world.
Skilling (spits it) That's a parochial vision.
Roe The world is?Jeff, sometimes I wonder if you have anger issues.
Skilling Fuck you.Beat.Ask me. What. I would trade.
Lay What do you see us trading, Jeff?
Skilling Energy.
Roe Brilliant (!)
Skilling Sure, we make it. We transport it. We sell it. Why don't we trade it? You gotta pull back and look at this thing from above. Why do we even have to deliver the gas at all?
Roe Well, we're a gas company, Jeff.
Skilling If we got a customer wants a steady supply of natural gas and we don't have a pipeline near them, what do we do?
Lay We buy the gas off someone who does have a pipeline there and we charge the customer a little more than we pay for it.
Skilling So let's always do that. Buy from someone, sell it on. In. Out. Without ever having to deliver the gas or maintain the pipeline. We're just dealing in the numbers.
Roe We should be focusing on building more plants.
Skilling God, if you could hear yourself. 'Build more fucking powerplants.' No imagination, go crazy – What about wind farms or hydro …?!
Roe Wind farms?! I'm sorry, I thought I was the only woman in the room.
Skilling We don't need the hard stuff.
Roe India, Africa – huge power requirements in the future –
Skilling That will take years! You really want to pay for people to go build pipelines along disputed borders, tribes with AK47s? You want that fucking mess – ?
Roe I think in the most volatile areas in the world it might be worth controlling their energy supply, yes.
Skilling Scratching around in the dirt. I'm not talking about pushing on an industry already in place. I'm trying to tell you … Ken, you've seen some changes in business since you started.
Lay Sure. I'm as old as the plains.
Skilling Well, it's time to evolve again. We have to. America doesn't have the natural resources any more. Not really. And that's good, that's fine. We have intellectual capital, and the best of it in the world. Look at the societies that do have the raw materials, how modern do they feel, really? Then take a landlocked, barren country like Switzerland. What do they do? They invent banking.We should be coming up with new ideas. About everything. Employ the smartest people we can find. And have 'em free to look at whatever they want, free from the old assumptions about what this company is.
Roe Sounds like hippy talk to me.
Skilling I'm not gonna patronise you by pretending you believe what you just said.
Lay You got one idea about trading.
Skilling I got plenty of ideas. Mark-to-market, energy trading, that's just the beginning.
Roe I can push through natural gas deals we already have experience of. You want power? Enron. India? Enron. South America? Enron.
Skilling Countries are meaningless.It's all going to be virtual. Oil and land run out.
Roe In which case, don't you think it's worth being the only people in the world with power plants?!
Skilling There is a whole, glistening, clean industry above what you're talking about that no one's even thought of yet.
Roe Except you (!)
Silence.
Lay You see, I'm like Claudia. I like holding things. In our father's day, a man worked and he saw himself in his work. If he made a table, he saw himself in the table he made. It was part of him, and he of it. I am oil and pipelines.
Skilling My father was a valve salesman. I didn't want to grow up to sell valves. Tiny pieces of something bigger he never saw. There is a dignity to holding something, Ken. Butyour daddy was a baptist preacher. There's a dignity to giving people something they can't touch.
Roe Suddenly you have a 'calling'. Well, I find it distasteful.
Skilling I don't want to work for you. I feel I gotta say if Claudia takes this job I won't be staying.
Lay considers the younger man and his presumption.
Lay
(to Skilling)
I think you should step out.
Skilling tries to maintain his dignity and leaves. Lay takes Roe's hand.
Lay
(to Roe)
You know, you were always my favourite. But I'm offering Jeff the job.
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.
Lay (to us) Henry Ford. There's a man folk think revolutionised things. He did not. He took people out of the equation. Of which I do not approve. No, the man who ought to be remembered is Alfred P. Sloane – Head of General Motors and a great philanthropist. There was a time when the cost of the automobile meant that most Americans could never afford one. And General Motors felt there must be a way to open up that market. Over at Ford, Henry didn't care. Ford felt that only a man who'd saved every single cent for a car deserved one. And if he had not the money, he should not have the car. Never mind that meant the automobile was only available to the very rich. Now Alfred P. Sloane said, well hang on a minute, if a man will pledge to pay the full amount of the car in instalments, over time, we will provide him with one. And when we do, he will use that car to travel to a place of work, where he will make more money than he might otherwise, thus he will use that very car in his effort to make good on his promise. And in such a way the common man was given access to the automobile. And in such a way General Motors overtook Fordas the most successful and profitable company in America. And in such a way, the world is changed.Today I am pleased to announce the appointment of Jeffrey Skilling to the post of President of the Enron corporation.
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.
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