Behind the scenes at Orlando Shakespeare Theater

In Her Own Words – Yasmina Reza on “God of Carnage”

Lost in Translation

“There are lots of words and phrases that I more or less invent, which in English are so flat, so poor. If – and I’m totally incapable of doing it – I could write directly in English, I would never write in the way the translations are written. as soon as I see a translation in English, I suffer. and Christopher suffers too – I make him suffer…”

“I have nothing against laughter. On the contrary. but they are not pure comedy, not nonsense. I hope that they have a deep, profound meaning. … Most of the time I don’t agree with the reaction to my plays. It’s very contradictory. Pierre Arditi [who starred in Art in Paris] once said the most wonderful thing: ‘If we had to choose the audience according to your criteria,’ – her dark eyes light up with glee – ‘we’d play in front of 12 people.”

– Yasmina Reza, in “Yasmina Reza on writing a play that can rival ‘ART’” by Alice Jones, The Independent, March 21, 2008

On the Subject of Laughter

“Laughter is always a problem … laughter is very dangerous. The way people laugh changes the way you see a play. A very profound play may seem very light. My plays have always been described as comedy but I think they’re tragedy. They are funny tragedy, but they are tragedy. Maybe it’s a new genre…”

“I knew as a young child that everyone would die, that humanity was vile. I had no optimism in human beings. I have no faith in humanity. Our first instincts are vile.”

– Yasmina Reza, quoted in “Times Topics: Yasmina Reza by Caryn James,” The New York Times, March 23, 2009

About Playwright Yasmina Reza

Yasmina Reza

Yasmina Reza, Playwright

Yasmina Reza was born in 1959 in Paris and trained as an actor, starting her professional career as an actor appearing in contemporary French plays as well as in classic works by Mariveaux and Molière. In 1987 she wrote Conversations after a Burial, which won the coveted Molière award for best author. Her translation of Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of the Franz Kafka novel The Metamorphosis, for performance by Roman Polanski, was nominated for the Molière award for Best Translation in 1988. Winter Crossing (1990), her second play, won the 1990 Molière award for Best Fringe Production.

Her play Art premiered in Berlin and opened in Paris in 1994, winning the Molière award for Best Author, Best Play and Best Production that year. Since then, the play has been translated into 20 languages and become a critical and popular success worldwide. In 2000 Reza wrote Life x 3, which was first performed in English at the Lyttelton Theatre, Royal National Theatre in London in December 2000.

Le Dieu du Carnage opened in December 2006 at the Schauspielhaus in Zurich and was first performed in English (in a translation by Christopher Hampton) as God of Carnage in London in March 2008. In 2009, God of Carnage was given the Laurence Olivier award for Best New Comedy. after some minor modifications in the book to accommodate an American audience, a Broadway production opened in March of 2009. God of Carnage won 2009 Tony awards for Best Play as well as Best Direction and Best actress in a Play.

A Short Chronology

1960 Yasmina Reza is born in Paris to a Hungarian Jewish mother and a Russian-Iranian Jewish father

1983 Jusqu’à la nuit (Till Night)

1987 Conversations après un enterrement (Conversations after a Burial)

1989 La Traversée de l’hiver (The Passage of Winter)

1994 Art

1995 L’Homme du hasard (The Unexpected Man)

1997 Hammerklavier

1999 Une désolation (Desolation)

2000 Trois versions de la vie (Life x 3)

2000 Le pique-nique de Lulu Kreutz (Lulu Kreutz’s picnic)

2003 Adam Haberberg

2004 Une pièce espagnole (a Spanish Play)

2005 Nulle part

2005 Dans la luge d’Arthur Schopenhauer (On Arthur Schopenhauer’s Sledge)

2006 Le Dieu du Carnage (God of Carnage)

2007 L’Aube le soir ou la nuit (Dawn, Evening, or Night)


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