Seven college students gather for a DIY self-defense workshop after a sorority sister is raped. They learn how to “not be a victim," how to use their bodies as weapons, how to fend off attackers. The form of self-defense becomes a channel for their rage, trauma, confusion, anxiety, and desire—lots of desire. Challenged to determine what they want and how to ask for it, the students must ultimately face the insidious ways rape culture steals one's body and sense of belonging.
"When I first read Lily’s How to Defend Yourself, I knew this powerful play had to have a life in the American Theatre,” says Chay Yew, Artistic Director of Victory Gardens, “Addressing the silent and pervasive crime of rape on college campuses, this witty and essential work is also the perfect platform for our Chicago audiences to further dialogue about the current #metoo movement in ending sexual violence and harassment. We developed Lily’s play in our Ignition Festival of New Plays earlier this year, and we are proud to partner with Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival in presenting the world premiere of How to Defend Yourself.”
“Every person I worked with at the IGNITION Festival was so committed, game, passionate and curious,” says playwright Lily Padilla. “We were in magic time— our two short days of rehearsal were so focused it felt like a week. I can’t wait to work with Marti Lyons and Victory Gardens artists again to create the production of How to Defend Yourself.”
How to Defend Yourself was developed in the 2018 Wagner New Play Festival at the University of California, San Diego directed by Kim Rubinstein and mentored by Naomi Iizuka, Allan Havis, Deborah Stein and Kim Rubinstein. The roles were originated by UC San Diego undergraduate and graduate actors. The play was further developed in the 2018 IGNITION New Play Festival at Victory Gardens Theater and the 2018 Ojai Playwrights Conference.
Additional information about How to Defend Yourself and the Victory Gardens Theater 2019/2020 Season will be announced at a later date.
Lily Padilla makes plays about sex, intersectional communities and what it means to heal in a violent world. They just received their M.F.A. from the University of California, San Diego, where they were mentored by Naomi Iizuka, Deborah Stein, Allan Havis and Kim Rubinstein. Padilla’s work has been developed with the Ojai Playwrights Conference, Victory Gardens Theater, INTAR Theatre and San Diego Repertory Theatre. Her immersive audio installation And Then You Wait, co-created with Dylan Key, reimagined an abandoned grain silo as an apocalyptic fallout shelter in the 2017 La Jolla Playhouse WOW Festival. (w)holeness was a finalist for the 2018 Latinx Theatre Commons Carnaval of New Work. Padilla facilitates playwriting workshops with the La Jolla Playhouse/TCG Veterans & Theatre Institute. They hold a BFA from NYU Tisch, ETW & Playwrights Horizons. She is also a director, actor and community builder who looks at rehearsal as a laboratory for how we might be together. www.lilypadilla.com
About The Humana Festival of New American Plays
The Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville is a world-renowned event that has introduced more than 450 plays into the American and international theatre repertoire. Celebrated past premieres include Lucas Hnath’s The Christians, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate, Jen Silverman’s The Roommate, Kimber Lee’s brownsville song (b-side for tray), Idris Goodwin’s How We Got On, Molly Smith Metzler’s Cry It Out, A. Rey Pamatmat’s Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, Jordan Harrison’s Maple and Vine, Gina Gionfriddo’s Becky Shaw, Naomi Iizuka’s Polaroid Stories, Charles Mee’s Big Love, José Rivera’s Marisol, Naomi Wallace’s One Flea Spare, Emily Mann’s Execution of Justice, John Pielmeier’s Agnes of God, and Marsha Norman’s Getting Out. The Festival has also featured new work made by acclaimed ensemble companies, such as Rude Mechs (The Method Gun), UNIVERSES (Ameriville), and SITI Company (Steel Hammer, Cabin Pressure, Charles Mee’s bobrauschenbergamerica, and more).
Three Humana Festival plays have won the Pulitzer Prize—The Gin Game by D. L. Coburn, Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley, and Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies—and plays launched in Louisville have received a host of prestigious honors, including the Obie Award, Kesselring Prize, Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and many others. More than 400 Humana Festival plays have been published in anthologies and individual acting editions, making Actors Theatre a visible and vital force in the development of new work.
The Humana Festival is the premier event of its kind in the nation, drawing theatre lovers, journalists, and film and stage producers from around the world. About 36,000 patrons attend the six weeks of plays and associated events, including students from more than 50 colleges and universities. The Festival culminates in two industry weekends, which bring together a collection of amazing new plays with one-of-a-kind panels, cocktail parties, discussions and networking events. It is the perfect opportunity to see new work, make new connections, and support the creation of new American theatre.
About Victory Gardens Theater
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Managing Director Erica Daniels, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals. Victory Gardens Theater is committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, set forth by Dennis Začek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.
Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theater work and cultivating an inclusive Chicago theater community. Victory Gardens’ core strengths are nurturing and producing dynamic and inspiring new plays, reflecting the diversity of our city’s and nation’s culture through engaging diverse communities, and in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, bringing art and culture to our city’s active student population.
Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater, a commitment recognized nationally when Victory Gardens received the 2001 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater includes the Začek-McVay Theater, a state-of-the-art 259-seat mainstage and the 109-seat studio theater on the second floor, named the Richard Christiansen Theater.
Victory Gardens Ensemble Playwrights include Luis Alfaro, Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Ike Holter, Samuel D. Hunter, Naomi Iizuka, Tanya Saracho and Laura Schellhardt. Each playwright has a seven-year residency at Victory Gardens Theater.
Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The REAM Foundation, Shubert Foundation, Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation, Wallace Foundation. Additional major funding comes from Crown Family Philanthropies, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Polk Bros. Foundation, Helen Zell.
Major funders also include: Allstate, Alphawood Foundation, Conant Family Foundation, Edgerton Foundation, Exelon, Field Foundation of Illinois, The Harvey L. Miller Supporting Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, Time Warner Foundation, Inc.
Additional funding this season Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, Capital Group Private Client Services, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, ComEd, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Golden Country Oriental Foods, Goldman Sachs, John R. Halligan Foundation, ITW, Mayer Brown LLP, The McVay Foundation, Metropolitan Capital Bank and Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, Negaunee Foundation, Roberta Olshansky Charitable Fund, Origin Ventures, Pauls Foundation, PNC Financial Services Group, Prince Charitable Trusts, Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Wrightwood Neighbors Foundation.
In-kind support is provided by: Italian Village Restaurants, Southwest Airlines, Roy’s Furniture, Suite Home Chicago, Taco Joint, and Whole Foods Market.
Capital improvement support from the Performing Arts Venue Fund at the League of Chicago Theaters, with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and Capacity Building support by Compass-Chicago.
For more information about Victory Gardens, visit www.victorygardens.org. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/victorygardens, Twitter @VictoryGardens and Instagram at instagram.com/victorygardenstheater/.