Fascinating Playwright Created Peninsula Players Latest, ‘God of Carnage’

Yasmina Reza’s multiple-award-winning comedy, “God of Carnage” is now on stage at Peninsula Players Theatre-in-a-Garden through Oct. 16.

Reza’s earlier play, a comedy entitled “Art,” drew maximum laughs about minimalist art. Both plays received accolades from critics and numerous awards. In “God of Carnage,” Reza uses her wit to strip away the veneer of civilization. Both plays made their Wisconsin première at Peninsula Players.

“God of Carnage” makes it Wisconsin première at Peninsula Players through Oct. 16, featuring actors from left Maggie Carney, Joe Foust, Karen Janes Woditsch and Kevin McKillip.

In the current work, two sets of savvy parents meet over coffee and espresso to discuss the behavior of their boys on the playground. The evening starts with a civil tone, but cocktails are served, tensions build to a snapping point and the parents become increasingly childish, resulting in an evening that devolves into comedic side-splitting chaos when the gloves come off and the parents share how they really feel in a free-for-all brawl.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Reza says she was inspired by a real incident. She was talking to the mother of her son’s classmate who sustained a broken tooth on the playground.

“She said to me this: ‘Do you realize the parents haven’t even called to apologize!’ I immediately thought that there was an interesting theme here,” Reza says.

Reza was born in Paris to 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 and was 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 work as an actress, appearing in several new plays as well as classic works by Molière and Marivaux.

In 1987, she wrote “Conversations after a Burial, which won the Molière Award for Best Author, SACD New Talent Award, the Johnson Foundation Award and was subsequently performed across Europe and in South America.

In 1995, “Art premiered in Paris and garnered her another Molière Award for Best Author. Since then “Art has been produced world-wide and translated into 20 languages and performed at Peninsula Players in 2000.

God of Carnage opened in London in March 2008, with translation by Christopher Hampton starring Ralph Fiennes, Tamsin Greig, Janet McTeer and Ken Stott. The London production won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.

God of Carnage premiered on Broadway with its setting changed to Brooklyn at the Bernard Jacobs Theater on March 22, 2009 with James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis. God of Carnage won Best Play, Best Direction and Best Actress for Marcia Gay Harden at the 2009 Tony Awards.

Reza says she puts herself in the characters she writes.  “I spread myself out and hide myself in each of them.”

The parents in “God of Carnage” range from a lawyer and wealth management officer, to a writer and owner of a household goods store.  “My plays are about people who are well-raised but who lose control of themselves,” Reza said.  “My characters are for the most part impulsive by nature. You could describe my plays as being a theater of nerves.”

Peninsula Players is a non-profit theater and a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers, and employs professional actors for all of its productions.  Company members work in regional theaters from Los Angeles to New York, as well as in film, television and radio.

The Peninsula Players perform Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 7 pm except Sundays, Oct. 9 and 16 which will have 4 pm performances. Discount tickets are available for groups of 15 or more. Individual tickets are also available, prices range from $32 to $38. There are no performances on Mondays. For more information on “God of Carnage” or the Players Saturday Seminar Series phone the Peninsula Players box office at 920.868.3287 or visit the Website at www.peninsulaplayers.com.

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