Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Yasmina Reza was born in Paris on May 1, 1959, to Jewish parents. Her mother was the daughter of a Hungarian violinist from Budapest, and her father hailed from a family of Sephardic Jews from Russia. He was born in 1918, in the middle of the Russian Revolution, when the family (whose original name had been Gedaliah) fled first to Persia, where they changed their surname to Reza and pretended to have become Muslims when, in fact, they observed Judaism at home. Their next move was to Paris when Reza’s father was five. He became an engineer who ended up in the shirt business. Partly because of these genealogical roots, Reza writes plays and fiction that are informed by nostalgia, rupture, and a sense of loss, even though her wealthy family vacationed in Switzerland.
Both parents had musical taste and aptitude. Her father was an impassioned amateur pianist—just as Yasmina is—and her mother played the violin. Yasmina mentions music in several of her writings, and for her, music is heaven. As she explains, it touches us profoundly and speaks to us in a way that words cannot. She points to Ludwig van Beethoven’s sonatas and Johann Sebastian Bach’s suites as possessing an absolute integrity and brave expressiveness. What she particularly likes about music is its pauses and silences, for she finds in their mysteries possibilities of dramatic human truth. When she gave up sociology after earning a license in it, she acquired a diploma in theater studies...
(The entire section is 812 words.)
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Yasmina Reza (ray-zuh), one of the newest voices of the international theater, began her drama career as an actress on the French stage, where she explored the work of Marivaux and Molière. Her mother was a Hungarian violinist, and her father was a Persian and Spanish businessman. Her cultured childhood and exotic family history (her father’s family of Jews was forced from Spain and Persia when they refused to convert to Catholicism and Islam) provided Reza with a foundation from which to draw autobiographical sketches of family and artistic conflict. She studied sociology at Paris X University and acting at the Jacques Lecoq Drama School. By the late 1980’s she found acting “not intellectual enough” and her relationship with directors too slavish to freely give utterance to her creative ideas. Thus she wrote her first play, Conversations After a Burial, in 1987. Its performance in France won her the Molière Award for best author, after which it was translated into several languages and performed across Europe.
Her subsequent work garnered equal acclaim. Winter Crossing, a play about three men and three women savoring the final moments of a summer retreat in the mountains, won the Molière Award for Best Fringe Production. “Art,” which premiered in Berlin and opened in Paris in 1994, won Molière Awards for best author, best play, and best production. In 1995 The Unexpected Man, a mature work about the...
(The entire section is 762 words.)
Yasmina Reza was born in Paris on May 1, 1959, of Jewish parents who had immigrated to France. Her mother, a violinist, was from Budapest, and her father, an engineer, businessman, and pianist, was born in Moscow, USSR, of Iranian descent. As a girl, Reza took an interest in writing short stories. Upon graduating from high school, she attended the University of Paris X and the Jacques Lecoq drama school. Reza began working on the French stage as an actress but soon turned to playwriting because she found that acting was not intellectually challenging enough for her, and she resented being under the control of directors. Reza’s first two plays, Conversations après un enterrement (1987; Conversations after a Burial) and La Traversee de l’hiver (1990; Winter Crossing), both about the effect of major crises on family relationships, were winners of Molière awards.
Reza has explained that the subject matter of Art was inspired by an incident in which a friend of hers had purchased a modern painting that consisted of white paint on a white canvas. Upon seeing the painting, Reza found herself laughing at it. Although her friend was not offended by this response to the work, Reza envisioned a scenario in which such a response would ignite a major conflict between friends. Reza has stated that she wrote Art specifi- cally as an expression of conflict between male friends, as she does not feel friendships between women...
(The entire section is 384 words.)