Yasmina Reza is an acclaimed French playwright, screenwriter and novelist with numerous accolades to her name. Best known for her plays Le Dieu du Carnage (God of Carnage) and Art, both of which won numerous awards on the stage.
Reza’s play, Art, has won the triple crown in the theatre world – the French Molière award, the British Olivier award and the American Tony award. It was the first non-English language piece to win a Tony. The play has been translated into more than 30 languages.
God of Carnage won a Laurence Olivier award, and then when it transferred to Broadway in 2009 it won a Tony award and became the third longest-running production of the decade. Later the play was adapted into a film called Carnage by Reza alongside Roman Polanski, moving the setting from Paris to Brooklyn in the film.
Reza wrote God of Carnage in 3 months after a friend of her 13-year-old son got into a fight with another boy and had his tooth broken. It sparked something in her and she realised it was a great theme.
Reza doesn’t seem to have any scruples about working with Roman Polanski, who directed her adapted screenplay for Carnage. She also translated Polanski’s stage version of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Polanski is a fugitive from the US criminal justice system, awaiting trial for 5 criminal charges including rape of a 13-year-old girl. Carnage, although the screenplay was set in Brooklyn, had to be shot in Paris due to Polanski’s criminal status and travel restrictions. When interviewed about this issue, Reza has regularly bypassed the question and instead complimented Polanski’s writing, saying that she “adores him”.
Reza comes from a Russian and Hungarian Jewish family. During the Nazi occupation of France, her father was deported to Drancy internment camp. Born in 1959, Reza grew up acting in plays. Before becoming a playwright, Reza studied and worked as an actress, first studying at Jacques Lecoq School in Paris. She went on to write 8 plays, 8 novels, and 4 screenplays.
Top Five Yasmina Reza Plays
- Le Dieu du Carnage (God of Carnage)
- Conversations après un enterrement (Conversations After a Burial)
- La Traversée de l’hiver (The Passage of Winter)
- Trois versions de la vie (Life x 3)
Quotes by Yasmina Reza
“There’s no point in writing theatre if it’s not accessible.”
“What motivates me most is writing about people who are well brought up and yet, underneath that veneer, they break down. Their nerves break down. It’s when you hold yourself well until you just can’t any more, until your instinct takes over. It’s physiological.”
“I work like a painter. If a painter is doing a portrait of someone, he’s not interested in their childhood; he paints what he sees. There’s no explanation because it doesn’t mean anything.”