The Playgoer: "Enron" as GOOD Investment

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Enron" as GOOD Investment

Who is Lucy Prebble?  She's the 29-year-old British playwright who decided to write an Enron play a few years ago and found someone to produce it--in London.  And now that it's a proven success there, of course, it's coming to Broadway.

Time Out NY's David Cote asks (in the online pages of a UK paper no less): "Why couldn't America produce its own Enron play?"  One doesn't have to be a cultural nationalist to say, good question!

Part of the answer may be in simply following Ms. Prebble's career, which has been blessed by luck, no doubt, but also a climate more conducive to simply getting work done at all levels.

Ms. Prebble graduated [college at University of Sheffield]. She wrote a play about a pedophile, which was staged at the Royal Court Theater in London and enjoyed a rapturous critical reception. Later, in the wake of a career slowdown that prompted her to consider law school, she was hired to dramatize a blog by a high-priced London prostitute. The series, “Secret Diary of a Call Girl,” is seen on Showtime.

In 2006, as she continued working on the show, she met with an associate director of a London theater company, Headlong. He told her it was looking to stage big, bold stories. As it happens, Ms. Prebble had been following the Enron trials. “And I said: ‘I have got this one thing. I’d love to do a really big, musical, kind of spectacular show about the fall of Enron,’ ” she recalled during a recent interview in a warrenlike basement of a pub in the City, London’s financial district. “We spent the next hour getting drunk and talking about it. It was one of those meetings where you go, ‘Yes, this person gets it.’ ”
Et voila.  It happened.

I wouldn't underestimate the importance in this story of just having an artistic director telling a playwright he was looking for "bold, big stories."  That's a helpful start.

It's also encouraging to see young London playwrights also go through dry spells and write for TV--and then come back to theatre with interesting projects.

As for the rest it all comes down to that ethic of production, production, production and whatever financial arrangements they have there that keep making it feasible there.  Not to mention a proper "dole" that keeps artists, you know, alive while they're unemployed.


Andrew said...

'a proper "dole" that keeps artists, you know, alive while they're unemployed'

See, here in the US we understand that artists don't deserve to live.

Anonymous said...

Take all the theatre in the US. Imagine it happening in an area the size of California. That's the richness and density of UK theatre.

Anonymous said...

Here they would say "We're looking for small, insular, irrelevant stories"


Ken said...

Let's all move to London.