The 13th Annual Yale Drama Series Prize ceremony, which honored playwright Liliana Padilla for her play How To Defend Yourself, selected by playwright-judge Ayad Akhtar, was held March 3 at the Claire Tow Theater at Lincoln Center.
The evening culminated in a reading of the play directed by Rachel Chavkin. Also in attendance were previous Yale Drama Series Prize judges John Guare and Marsha Norman; previous YDS Prize recipients Barbara Seyda and Neil Wechsler; and Francine Horn, president of the David Charles Horn Foundation.
The Yale Drama Series, the preeminent playwriting award in cooperation with Yale University Press, is given annually for a play by an emerging playwright, selected by a judging panel of one, a distinguished playwright of our time. The winner receives the David Charles Horn Prize of $10,000, as well as publication of the winning play by Yale University Press and a staged professional reading.
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, who chose Padilla out of a pool of 1,750 submissions.
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.