A true life tale of greed, sex, and scandal set amid the world of high finance is set to take the stage as Theatre UNB presents Lucy Prebble’s Enron.
On December 2, 2001, American energy giant Enron Corporation, which had been named “America’s Most Innovative Company” for six years running, with an estimated worth over 100 billion dollars, shocked the financial world by declaring bankruptcy. In the weeks that followed, it became clear that Enron’s success had been a mirage built on a scheme of fraudulent accounting practices, and company executives received some of the stiffest sentences ever handed down for white-collar crimes.
Enron is the fifth and final season production for UNB Drama in a season with a strong historical theme. With October’s production of Michel Tremblay’s Les Belles-Soeurs, January’s production of Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker and now a March production of Enron, it would appear UNB’s Driector of Drama, Len Falkenstein is a bit of a history buff.
“I wouldn’t say I’m always more drawn to plays that are based in real history than to works that are purely fictional,” said Falkenstein, “but with historical material there is the appeal of learning something about a place and time you maybe have little knowledge of going in. One of the things I love about directing is that you learn new things from every play that you do. We did Our Country’s Good earlier in the year, and as a result I know a lot of things I didn’t know before about the early settlement of Australia, which is a history that is absolutely fascinating. In the case of Enron, I lived through the months of that scandal but can’t say I took a lot of notice of it, and I have to confess that I’m pretty ignorant of how financial markets and the business world in general operates.
“Working on this play has forced me to learn about that world,” he said, “which has been great in that this is a very important world because in so many ways our lives are controlled by the markets and by people making decisions that play with our money and affect our basic wellbeing in crucial ways. So the lifelong student and teacher in me loves doing history plays, and I also think they’re great to do in university settings, as universities are all about learning and opening the eyes of students to experiences and stories and facts that they never would have encountered otherwise.”
This makes Enron the perfect capper to a great season of drama at UNB.
A sensation when it opened in London’s West End in 2009, Enron takes audiences on a wildly entertaining, high octane ride through the rise and fall of Enron, all set to a pulsing 90s soundtrack. The play demystifies the murky criminal subterfuge that went on beneath the company’s glossy façade in scenes that alternate between documentary realism and surreal comedy, with song and dance numbers, vaudeville routines, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and some hungry dinosaurs all part of the strange world that was Enron. Along the way, Enron is both a witheringly satiric exposé of the worst excesses of American capitalism and an almost Shakespearean tragedy about the brilliant but flawed human beings who perpetrated the scandal.
Directed by Len Falkenstein, with bold visuals by set and projection designer Mike Johnston and masks by Michael Savard, Enron will be performed at 8 PM nightly from Wednesday, March 25 through Saturday, March 28 at Memorial Hall on the UNB campus. Tickets ($14 regular, $10 seniors and underwaged, and $8 for students) will be available at the door. For more information, phone 447-3078 or email firstname.lastname@example.org