NEW YORK CITY: The Yale Drama Series, in cooperation with Yale University Press, has named playwright Lily Padilla as the 2019 Yale Drama Series Prize winner for their play How to Defend Yourself. Padilla will receive a $10,000 cash prize, and How to Defend Yourself will be published by Yale University Press and presented a private staged reading at Lincoln Center Theater’s Claire Tow Theater this fall.
The winning script was selected by playwright Ayad Akhtar from a pool of more than 1,750 submissions from 65 countries.
“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 Akhtar in a statement. “Lily 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 follows seven college students who gather for a DIY self-defense workshop on campus after a sorority sister is raped. How to Defend Yourself is a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist and will be produced at the 2019 Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky. and at Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago in 2020.
“I feel so grateful and inspired to win the Yale Drama Prize,” said Padilla in a statement. “How to Defend Yourself comes from listening to the parts of me that were shamed into silence; 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.”
This year’s runners-up is Gina Femia for Allond(R)a, a coming of age tale that follows Allonda and her friend group as they wrestle their way through the summer and navigate friendship and heartache.
The annual Yale Drama Series Prize, now in its 13th year, is the preeminent playwriting award in cooperation with Yale University Press and is solely sponsored by the David Charles Horn Foundation.