2019: Liliana Padilla
AYAD AKHTAR SELECTS LILIANA PADILLA'S HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF WINNER OF THE 13th ANNUAL YALE DRAMA SERIES
“It was a year of strong submissions, with a particularly muscular sample of deft, moving plays about the toxic interplay of power and sexuality,” said judge Ayad Akhtar, who chose How to Defend Yourself from over 1,750 submissions. “Liliana Padilla’s play about desire, defense, and the insidious, labyrinthine reach of rape culture is that rare thing: Formally inventive, timely, accessible, and soulful. I can't wait for people to experience it.”
How to Defend Yourself is about seven college students who gather for a DIY self-defense workshop after a sorority sister is raped. They learn to use their bodies as weapons. They learn to fend off attackers. They learn “not to be a victim.” Learning self-defense becomes a channel for their rage, anxiety, confusion, trauma and desire – lots of desire. The play explores what you want, how to ask for it, and the insidious ways rape culture steals one’s body and sense of belonging. Liliana said, “To be able to write it was healing beyond what I had imagined. That folks are connecting deeply with the play is gorgeous affirmation of what is possible when we act together in service of our collective liberation.”
Liliana makes plays about sex, intersectional communities and what it means to heal in a violent world. How to Defend Yourself was a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist. It was produced in the 2019 Humana Festival and will be at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater in 2020. Liliana’s work has been developed with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Victory Gardens, WP Theatre, INTAR Theatre and San Diego REP. Current commissions include new plays with NNPN, Colt Coeur, and South Coast Rep. Liliana is also a director, actor and community builder who looks at rehearsal as a laboratory for how we might be together.