Ça va!

20.21.23/05 > 20:30
24/05 > 18:00
Duration: +/- 80'
Nl > Subtitles: Fr

Architects of the universe, we are miracle-workers…

(Maïakovski, 1918)

After Agota Kristof’s trilogy (KunstenFESTIVALdesArts 2000), De Onderneming is now sounding the chest of ‘the new man’, inspired by Vladimir Mayakovsky, the great revolutionary poet who committed suicide in 1930.

Its sources: 150,000,000… and Mystery-Bouffe, a play written for the first anniversary of the October Revolution. On stage the Deluge, Mayakovsky as Christ, electricity for Salvation and Paradise in the form of a cocktail bar. Martians arrive… is it a mass, a cabaret or a circus? In any case, it’s a world without solutions for there aren’t any problems!

Performers & Adaptation:

Ryszard Turbiasz, Günther Lesage, Robby Cleiren,Carly Wijs


Vladimir Maïakovski

Lighting & Set:

Stef Stessel

Technical production:

Richard Kerkhofs


Karen De Wolf



Supported by:

Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap


Théâtre Les Tanneurs, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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Architects of the universe, we are miracle-workers…

(Maïakovski, 1918)

Following Agota Kristof’s trilogy presented at the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts in 2000, De Onderneming is focusing its attention on the ideals and ups and downs of ‘the new man’. Their inspiration is Vladimir Mayakovsky, the great futurist poet who committed suicide by shooting himself in 1930, thirteen years after the October Revolution which he helped mastermind and of which he was one of the most fervent propagandists.

Ca va! presents a world without solutions because there are no problems! Unless the reverse is not true…

De Onderneming comes from (free) enterprise, a concept – as everyone knows – salvaged by those western Yank-ropean capitalists. Er… let’s start again. De Onderneming comes from “ondernemen” which means to undertake. There are several people who make up De Onderneming: some of them like staging a repertoire, others insist on sticking to contemporary works not made for theatre but which they then adapt: novels, novellas, poetry etc. They only write at the very last minute because they don’t want to have anything fixed on paper, preferring to try everything on stage first. This is why they are handing over here to the person who inspired them: Vladimir Mayakovsky as described by himself in his own biography “Myself”.

The subject

I am a poet. And as such, interesting. This is what I am writing about. Like on the beauties of nature in the Caucasian mountains when I love them or am excited by them – only if that can be decanted into words.


Burliuk said, “With Mayakovsky memory is like the road to Poltava. Everyone leaves their rubber overshoes on it. As for me I can remember neither dates nor faces. All I remember is that in 1100 there were some Dorians or other migrating to I don’t know where. I can’t remember the details of it, but it must have been a big event.

Third memory

Practical basic knowledge. Night. Behind the wall my mother and father are always whispering. Subject – the piano. I couldn’t sleep. There was a phrase that kept nagging away at me. In the morning I started running: “Papa, what does “staggering payments” mean?” I really liked the explanation.

The extraordinary

Seven years old. I occasionally accompany my father into the mountains when he has to inspect the forests. A storm. Night. We are walking in a cloud. I can’t even see my father.

A winding path.

It seems my father catches his sleeve on the branch of a wild rose. Held back, then released, it crashes across my cheeks. Screaming a bit I pull out the thorns. I am disoriented by the cloud, and by pain. Under my feet the cloud disappears – I see the sky lit up. It is electricity. Prince Nakachidze’s riveting factory. Having seen “electricity”, I lost all interest in Nature.

First book

In the genre of Dondon Agafia. Perhaps a hen. If I’d only come across books like that then, I would have given up reading for good. The second, fortunately, was Don Quixote. Now that’s a book. I made myself a wooden sword and armour and hit anyone who tried to encircle me.


Have moved. From Bagdadi to Koutais. Entrance exam for the secondary school. Didn’t want to do it. Asked me about the anchor (on my sleeve) – I knew the answer. But the priest wanted to know what “oko” is. I answered: “Three books” (correct in Georgian). The kind examiners explained to me that “oko” means “eye” in old church Slavonic. That almost did for me. After that, I begin to hate everything that was “old”, “church” and “Slavonic”. Possible that my futurism, my atheism and my internationalism come from that.

Arrest (perhaps)

Ambushed at Grouzino. Our secret printing outfit. I ate the notebook. With the addresses and binding. District of Presnaya. Okhrana. District of Suchtchevskaya. The investigating magistrate Boltanovsky (thought he was smart) made my write with him dictating. I was accused of writing proclamations. I make a mess of the dictation. I write “social dimocratic”. He walks off. Released on bail.

In the smoking room

Get-together of nobles. A concert. Rachmaninov. Isle of the Dead. Unbearable bordeom set to music. I leave. One minute later, Burliuk. We burst into laughter. Leave together to go for a walk.

A memorable night

Conversation. From Rachmaninovian boredom we move to boredom at school, from there to boredom with all classical art. With Burliuk it comes from the anger of a master who overtook his contemporaries, with me – a socialist full of pathos, aware that the collapse of the old is unavoidable. Russian futurism is born.

Next night

During the day I write a poem. Rather – bits of one. Bad. Never published. Night. Sretensky Boulevard. I read some lines to Burliuk. I say they’re by a friend. David stops. Looks at me. He says: “So you wrote that all by yourself! You’re a great poet!” The use of such a grandiose and undeserved epithet really made me happy. I go back to poetry again. That evening, totally unexpectedly, I became a poet.

Burliuk’s oddness

The next day Burliuk, in his bass voice, announces to one of my acquaintances who is in the company of someone: “You don’t know? My friend, the genius, the famous poet, Mayakovsky”. I nudge him. But Burliuk will not stop. What’s more, he shouts as he leaves: “Write now. If not, you’ll make me look stupid”.

I move

The “Knave of Diamonds” exhibition. Arguments. David and I make people furious. Papers begin to fill up with futurism. The tone isn’t very polite. I’m called a “son of a bitch” for example.

Yellow tunic

I’ve never had a suit. I had two tunics that looked pretty awful. A method that never fails – dress up in a tie. No money. I took a piece of yellow ribbon from my sister’s house. I tied it around my neck. Sensation. So the most obvious and beautiful thing about a man – his tie. Evidently – the bigger the tie the bigger the sensation.
Given that tie sizes are limited, I had to use a trick: I made a tie-shirt and shirt-tie all in one. The most joyous date.
July 1915. I meet L.U. and O.M. Brik.


To accept or not? For me (as for other Moscovite futurists), a question like this is never asked. It’s a revolution of mine. Arrived at Smolny. I work. I take everything coming.

25 October, year -18

I have finished “Mistery”. I read it. We talk a lot. Meyerhold stages it with Malevich. There’s a terrible fuss about it. Intellectuals-who-think-they-are-communists in particular. Andreeva stood on her head. To block the way. There are 3 performances – then things start getting a bit rough. And the “Macbeths” leave again.

Year -28

I write the poem “Things are going badly”. Some plays and my literary biography. Many say: “Your autobiography isn’t very serious”. That’s quite right. I haven’t “academised” myself yet and I’m not used to pampering myself, just as it is also true that my work interests me if it is cheerful. The awakening and demise of several literatures, symbolists, realists etc., our fight against them – everything that I’ve seen: it’s a part of our very serious history. We need it to be written. And I shall write it.

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