Posted by: Anya Martin | October 15, 2008

Honesty in the Art of Lying



“Daily fake behavior” is a theme in the US Premiere of Amsterdam-based Kassys new show Liga says founding company member Liesbeth Gritter. Liga opens this Thursday at the New Hazlett Theater.

The company website claims that “The mechanism of human behavior is an endless inspiration. Self taught spontaneity, shamelessness and obedience are submitted to precise observation in all Kassys’ works.” In Liga, the company further explores their obsession with human behavior through many layers of experimentation and performance.

The show began as “a theme in my head” says Gritter, who became fascinated by watching her 18-month old nephew learn the “rules of how to behave.” “By watching our behavior he started to be like us,” she continues. Her nephew’s behavior began to transform from what Gritter describes as an “authentic child self” to one that began to display the fake behavior practiced by adults.

Such behavior might include “smiling when you don’t feel like it” or even “speaking in a cute, different voice,” offers Gritter. These behaviors are often learned by “punishment and reward” she goes on to say, explaining that when her nephew spoke in a cute alternate voice his mother may have found it funny or adorable. As a result her nephew was given the attention or cookie he desired.

Another layer to which this behavior is examined is through the theatre itself, as acting is after all a faked behavior. In theatre “the audience is paying to be lied to” says Gritter. In some ways the show was created around an acting experiment. Based on observations of her nephew’s actions Gritter created “10 rules” of behavior, which the actors must obey on stage. These rules are designed to force them out of false behaviors and therefore result in an honest performance.

This is not necessarily a new idea as often the goal of acting training techniques from Stanislavski to Viewpoints is to rid actors of poor acting habits, which keep them from truthful impulses and choices in performance. Gritter and Kassys may be attempting to take these theories a step further, by not just practicing them on stage as a vehicle for a genuine performance, but rather the search for honest behavior becomes the subject of the performance itself.

As good theatre as a lie that tells the truth, Kassys’ active search for honesty should make for an intriguing show as well as an artful study into the quirks of human behavior.

Only Three Performances in Pittsburgh! See Liga Thursday, Friday and Saturday October 16-18.



  1. […] problem is that, as an irregular contemporary theater-goer (like you, I depend on Anya for this stuff), I spent a solid third of Liga waiting for it to end. This is theater of process, a […]

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