How to Defend Yourself

Sponsored by:
  • The Humana Foundation

March 13 - April 7, 2019

See Showtimes

by Lily Padilla
directed by Marti Lyons
co-world premiere with Victory Gardens Theater

March 13 – April 7, 2019

in the Bingham Theatre

Your body is a weapon. So says Brandi, who starts teaching her peers self-defense after fraternity brothers assault one of her sorority sisters. Joined by two male classmates who show up in support, the group learns how to fight back, while wrestling with their own complicated experiences and desires. But how much can a class actually teach them about protecting themselves—and each other? Visceral and provocative, How to Defend Yourself examines the impact of rape culture, on campus and beyond.

Audience advisory: Contains strong language, some violence and explicit discussion of sex and sexual assault.
Age recommendation: 16+

Developed by: UC San Diego, Wagner New Play Festival 2018, directed by Kim Rubinstein; Victory Gardens Theater, IGNITION Festival of New Plays 2018 Artistic Director: Chay Yew, Managing Director: Erica Daniels; the Ojai Playwrights Conference, Artistic Director: Robert Egan, Managing Director: Mark Seldis; and supported by residencies at the Blue Mountain Center and the Anderson Center at Tower View.

About the Playwright

Lily Padilla makes plays about sex, intersectional communities and what it means to heal in a violent world. Their play How to Defend Yourself is a 2018-19 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist. Lily’s work has been developed with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Victory Gardens Theater, INTAR Theatre and San Diego Repertory Theatre. They facilitate playwriting workshops with the La Jolla Playhouse/TCG Veterans & Theatre Institute and teach playwriting and devised theatre at the University of San Diego and the University of California, San Diego. M.F.A., UC San Diego, B.F.A., New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Padilla is currently commissioned to make new plays with the National New Play Network, Colt Coeur, and South Coast Repertory. They are also a director, actor and community builder who looks at rehearsal as a laboratory for how we might be together. For more information, please visit

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