by Yasmina Reza
translated by Christopher Hampton
Yasmina Reza, born 1959 in Paris, is a French dramatist, novelist, and actress best known for her witty, satiric plays about contemporary middle-class anxieties and hypocrisy. She studied at the University of Paris X, Nanterre, and at the drama school of Jacques Lecoq before working as an actress. The first two plays she wrote, both winners of a Molière Award, were Conversations après un enterrement (1986; Conversations After a Burial), and La Traversée de l’hiver (1989; Winter Crossing).
It was Art however, which premiered in 1994, that brought Reza wide notice. The play was in production on major stages worldwide virtually continuously after its opening. It won Molière Awards for best author, play, and production; a British Laurence Olivier Award for best comedy; and a Tony Award for best play. Another hit, L’Homme du hasard (1995; The Unexpected Man), is a two-character play set on a train traveling from Paris to Frankfurt. Reza’s next play, Trois versions de la vie, offering three different versions of the same event, premiered in Vienna in October 2000, and opened in Paris the following month, with the author in the cast, and in December in London under the title Life × 3.
Une Pièce espagnole: théâtre (2004; The Spanish Play) gives insight into the theatrical world. Following several productions onstage, Reza wrote and directed a screen adaptation, Chicas (2010; Girls). In the satiric comedy Le Dieu du carnage (2006; God of Carnage), Reza focused on two couples who meet to discuss a fight between their young sons. The play made its London debut in 2008 and subsequently won a Laurence Olivier Award. The Broadway production of God of Carnage, which opened a year later, earned a Tony Award for best play and the Zürich production received the Viennese Nestroy-Theatreprize for best German-language performance. For the 2011 film version (titled Carnage), Reza co-wrote the screenplay with Roman Polanski, who also directed.
In September 1997, her first novel, Hammerklavier, was published and another work of fiction, Une Désolation, was published in 2001. Her 2007 work L’Aube le Soir ou la Nuit (Dawn Evening or Night), a detailed biography of Nicolas Sarkozy as he ran for president, caused a sensation in France.
Reza’s other works include a French translation of a stage adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis and the screenplay for the film Le Pique-nique de Lulu Kreutz (2000; Lulu Kreutz’s Picnic), which was directed by her partner at the time, Didier Martiny.