Posted by: Justin Hopper | October 17, 2008

Kassys in Liga: Part 2

…in which the blogger goes on a crazy tangent about Kassys, the Netherlands, and the 1974 World Cup.

Total Theater

Total Theater

Total Theater

Maybe it’s Harm (a character’s name, not an action), with his bright orange V-neck sweater and cue-ball bald head. Maybe it’s an urge to read cultural subtext into everything. Or maybe it’s my non-theater-type-brain seeing, in the five-actor staggered lineup that ends Liga, the defense of a jagged 4-3-3 formation. But I can’t help but combine the show’s title (Liga, meaning league, and also, apparently, a kind of causal relationship between things) and the troupe’s origins and think of David Winner’s fantastic 2000 book, Brilliant Orange.

Yes, Brilliant Orange is an examination not of theater, but of the dominant Dutch soccer teams of the 1970s – but hear me out.

In it, Winner argues that Total Football, the tactical system introduced by Amsterdam team Ajax, weren’t just soccer plans, but a culmination of a Dutch philosophy regarding concerns of space and the constant struggle between the acknowledged need for collectivism and the cultural insistence on individualism.

In Liga, Kassys practices what might be called Total Theater: No space or object goes unused, no actor is ever found out of position, the metaphorical spotlight is always on each individual and the troupe as a whole, for better and for worse. Just like Johan Cruyff’s Holland, Kassys’ dramatic abilities lie not in some kind of punchy payoff or turn of phrase, but in a stamina, a diversity and depth of talents, and a patience that allows the play to build and build until the opponent – or audience – is somewhat disoriented, and buys completely into a vision of the team’s dominance.

This is 99% hogwash, of course. But that 1% is fun to imagine. Go see for yourself: After you’ve seen Liga, watch Cruyff against West Germany, and just imagine him joining Kassys and taking those “Pythagorean” powers onto the stage.



  1. […] is right in comparing Amsterdam-based theatre company Kassys‘ production of Liga to the “Brilliant Orange” 1970’s Dutch soccer teams. While I don’t know a thing about soccer in general, much less orange wearing soccer […]

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