Lily Padilla has been named the winner of the 13th annual Yale Drama Series Prize for her play How to Defend Yourself. The writer, chosen by Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced), will receive the $10,000 David Charles Horn Prize, a professional staged reading, and the publication of the work through Yale University Press.
The play follows seven college students who, in the wake of the rape of a sorority sister, form a DIY self-defense workshop. The class becomes an outlet for them to express their rage, anxiety, trauma, and desire against the backdrop of an insidious rape culture.
“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. The recipient is traditionally determined by a sole distinguished playwright; Akhtar chose Padilla out of a pool of 1,750 submissions. “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.”
This year's runner up was Gina Femia for Allond(R)a. Akhtar was also the judge for last year's award, given to Leah Nanako Winkler for God Said This.
Padilla's additional works include (W)holeness, which is among the finalists for the 2019 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (to be awarded March 4 in London).