Mitrajet

monologue by Stijn Devillé
4 acts (26 pages)

1 man – 57 years of age

René Cobbejaert, a 57 year old single and former psychiatric patient, who works at a sewage treatment plant, is an Art Brut-artist in his spare time. He makes machineguns (Mitrajetten) in all kinds of shapes, forms and materials: wooden guns, cardboard guns, paper guns, guns made out of waste materials. They all have one thing in common: they can’t shoot for real.
 
One day, Johan Laleman, a well-known museum-director, proposes him to make an exhibition about his work. Moreover, he asks Cobbejaert to design one single machinegun that would shoot for real. In fact, before Cobbejaert was internated, he worked as an assistant at the Studio Léonard, an engineering office that specialized in weapon design. So Laleman knows Cobbejaert has the knowledge to build a real one, the RC57 thermodynamique. René hesitates, knowing what the consequences might be if he does build a real weapon.
 
The play begins at the moment the Museum collaborators are due to collect all of Cobbejaert’s Art Weapons. But Cobbejaert is furious about something and doesn’t approve of the exhibition anymore. Step by step, we learn Laleman and Cobbejaert were childhood friends in the early 1950’s, who spent a lot of time together in the workshop of the mysterious Monsieur Léonard, a war hero and weapondesigner. One day, when Léonard is away, the young Laleman and Louise Seghers, his girlfriend, set up a trap for René to rag him and to initiate him in the world of sex. It turns out to be humiliating for René, and while Louise runs away laughing, René attacks Johan with his bare hands, nearly killing him. René will be colloquated in a mental institution. Something snapped. The beating he gave Johan, will only be the first in a long series.
 
It will cost René years and years of treatment and iron will to control his aggression. When he starts making harmless weapons, he realises that it helps him to calm down, to control his fear and rage. Now, when he’s in his fifties, he gets a new job at the sewage treatment plant, and gets to know Emma, a young german art scientist and photographer. They live together for a short time, but when she gets a job in a Museum for Contemporary Art, she has to move. René lets her go.
 
From that moment on, things are going fast.
 
It is only short time later, that Laleman, still limping after the beating Cobbejaert gave him 40 years ago, proposes René to make the exhibition. And to develop the RC57 thermodynamique. René refuses, hesitates, refuses again, but starts working on it nevertheless. Yesterday the weapon was finished. But, today, Louise Seghers pops up, drunk and horny. She’s become Laleman’s wife after all, and now she’s there, trying to seduce René for the second time in his life. They make love, and while they’re at it, Louise confesses that Laleman has betrayed her with a young photographer. Her name is Emma. René can’t hold it. He beats up Louise. Something snapped again.
 
That’s the moment the audience walks in.
 
(The play is roughly based on the life and works of the French art-brut artist André Robillard.)