Yasmina Reza Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

In addition to stage plays, Yasmina Reza translated (from Steven Berkoff’s English version) Franz Kafka’s Die Verwandlung (1915; The Metamorphosis, 1936) into French for Roman Polanski in 1988 and has written screenplays, a novel, and a memoir. Published in France in 1997, her memoir Hammerklavier (English translation, 2000) is part interior monologue and part sketchbook for short-story ideas. Its slim narrative moves randomly through a sequence of fleeting autobiographical vignettes, as Reza draws on memories of friends and her family—especially her dead father—to focus on themes of memory and time (passing and lost). Two years later came her novel, Une Désolation (1999), about an old man’s failed existence. It was translated into ten languages, establishing her international appeal. Reza’s screenplay for Le Pique-nique de Lulu Kreutz was filmed by Didier Martiny in 2000, starring Philippe Noiret and Stéphane Audran. It tells the story of a world-famous violinist, who, weary of his profession and celebrity, falls in love with a fellow violinist who, however, prefers her scientist-husband.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Yasmina Reza has won more awards than any of her contemporary French playwrights. Her remarkable string of awards began with her first play, Conversations After a Burial, which won France’s prestigious Molière Award for Best Author. In 1988, her French translation of Kafka, La Métamorphose, earned for her the Molière translation prize. Two years later, Winter Crossing won a Molière for best fringe production. Her play Art brought her three Molières for Best Play, Production, and Author in 1994; the 1996 Evening Standard Theatre Award and 1997 Olivier Award in England, after Christopher Hampton had translated the play; and a Tony award the next season on Broadway. Other international awards for the piece include Teater Heute Best Play, 1996/97; Drama Critics Circle Award, 1998; Fany Award, 1998; Ace Award Best Dramatic Comedy, 1998; and the Premio Max de la SGAE in 1999. Art has been produced in more than twenty languages and has been a hit in more than forty countries. Reza won the distinction of being the first French playwright since Jean Anouilh to have a hit in the West End of London. In November, 2000, Life 3 opened simultaneously in Vienna, Athens, London, and Paris.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Blume, Mary. “Yasmina Reza and the Anatomy of a Play.” International Herald Tribune, 1998. A good introduction to the genesis of Art, with significant comments from Reza on her father and craft.

Danto, Arthur C. “Art, from France to the U.S.” The Nation, June 29, 1998, p. 28. Reveals the significance of “Art” as a commentary on the politics of art and its worth. Danto’s thesis is that Art is an allegory of the search to define what art is and what it is worth.

Hill, Diane. “Yasmina Reza: Master of Art.” France Today (1998). A discussion of Art and how it has transformed Reza into an international phenomenon. Also discusses her other plays and memoir to show her artistic development.

Hohenadel, Kristin. “Going Beyond Laughs: Yasmina Reza Hopes Her Successful Play Art Can Deliver Insights As Well As Humor to Her Audiences.” Los Angeles Times, January 17, 1999, p. 66. Hohenadel interviews Reza before the opening of Art at the James A. Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood, California, in 1999, discussing the audience reaction to the play and her attitude toward writing.

Reza, Yasmina. “Going Beyond Laughs: Yasmina Reza Hopes Her Successful Play ‘Art’ Can Deliver Insights as Well as Humor to Her Audiences.” Interview by Kristin Hohenadel. Los Angeles Times, January 17, 1999, p. 66. Hohenadel interviews Reza before the opening of “Art” at the James A. Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood in 1999, discussing the audience’s reaction to the play and her attitude toward writing.