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 at Nanterre after failing her drama school entrance examinations. She performed in classics by Molière and Marivaux and in new French plays. She revealed her acting talent in a Sacha Guitry play (Le Veilleur de nuit) in 1985. Indeed, her passion for music and her experience as an actress have helped her find a way of deploying silence most effectively in her plays. Words, for her, become parentheses of silences.
Reza turned to playwriting so that she could continue to explore human character and truth...
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