(Photo courtesy of the Stratford Festival)
Letter From Calgary
The corporation Enron still casts a shadow on this city.
by Antoni Cimolino
So its the end of week two of rehearsals on Enron at Theatre Calgary. A few quick impressions:
The cast I auditioned here in Calgary last April when I was still in the tech week of Grapes of Wrath in Stratford are terrific. They've worked so hard, quickly and well. We've shared many laughs.
There is a significant amount of movement and some dance in Enron. I've been very fortunate in having Anita Miotti as our Choreographer. She has worked in theatre but also in the modern dance world. One of the things I love about her work is that she is extremely collaborative with the actors. The results I find not only beautiful but advance the story.
With the High Performance Rodeo on and playRites Festival soon underway there is an abundance of interesting theatre.
We are rehearsing in two rooms. Most of my time is spent upstairs on scene work. However after initially describing the movement sequence I'd envisioned to Anita I continue to visit the larger hall to see what marvels have been accomplished.
Calgary has a lot of energy. With the High Performance Rodeo on and playRites Festival soon underway there is an abundance of interesting theatre. Actors and directors from across Canada meet and catch up.
The corporation Enron still casts a shadow on this city. They had an office building here. People worked for Enron until the end. Others in Calgary worked for the competition and wondered what Enron was doing that made them so successful. Little did they know...
... in the 1990s executives of Enron came to Calgary and persuaded Premier Ralph Klein about the virtues of deregulation.
Last weekend the front page of the Calgary Herald had an article on a recent sharp rise in the price of electricity. The Alberta electricity market has been deregulated for some time. The article said that in the 1990s executives of Enron came to Calgary and persuaded Premier Ralph Klein about the virtues of deregulation. They did the same in California of course but the results there were devastating. Here the results are just expensive.
This past week we had a financial executive in the energy trading field speak to our cast.
I always find this kind of research enormously helpful in rehearsal. In the Grapes of Wrath we had migrant workers and their representatives speak to us. It changed our view of the play forever.
This Calgary executive had once had Enron as a client. He said that no conversation would begin until it was acknowledged that they were "the smartest guys in the room." And he said that they usually were just that - prepared, well researched, brilliant and above all amoral. Enron valued intelligence supremely and most especially when it produced lucrative deals.
Eventually the Enron management started gaming their own corporation just as they had done the electricity grid in California.
The accounting for such deals booked future anticipated profits immediately regardless of whether those profits were ever actually realised. These deals would pay the trader or executive that created them an enormous commission based on those anticipated profits.
According to our visiting executive the minds at Enron focused their brilliance on finding the faults in regulations and laws. In these loopholes he said they discovered opportunities that they ruthlessly exploited. Eventually the Enron management started gaming their own corporation just as they had done the electricity grid in California. They shorted their own stock because they knew they lived in a house of cards. Towards the end they had more to gain from Enron's failure than its success. So as they had always done they followed the profit motive...
We have another two weeks of rehearsal before we begin previews. I will miss this cast and creative team. And I'll also miss Calgary.