Victory Gardens Theater continues its 45th season with the Co-World Premiere of How to Defend Yourself by Liliana Padilla and directed by Marti Lyons. A Co-World Premiere with Actors Theatre of Louisville, How to Defend Yourself runs January 24 – February 23, 2020, with press performance on Friday, January 31, 2020 at 7:30pm at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue.
How to Defend Yourself circles around seven college students who 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. Developed as part of Victory Gardens 2018 IGNITION Festival of New Plays and the winner of the 2019 Yale Drama Series Prize, How to Defend Yourself is funny, raw and brutally honest – a triumph from playwright Liliana Padilla. The production will be directed by Marti Lyons (Cambodian Rock Band, Native Gardens).
The cast of How to Defend Yourself includes Isa Arciniegas (Diana), Anna Crivelli (Brandi), Jayson Lee (Eggo), Ariana Mahallati (Mojdeh), Ryan McBride (Andy), Andrea San Miguel (Nikki), and Netta Walker (Kara).
The creative team includes Yu Shibagaki (scenic design), Christine Pascual (costume design), Paul Toben (lighting design), Thomas Dixon (sound design), Bren Coombs (props design), Steph Paul (movement director), Matt Hawkins (fight director), Rachel Flesher (intimacy director), Kat Zukaitis (dramaturg) and Alison McLeod (stage manager).
How to Defend Yourself is recommended for audiences 16 and up for strong language, some violence and explicit discussion of sex and sexual assault.
About the Artists
Liliana Padilla (Playwright) makes plays about community, the body and what it means to heal in a violent world. Their play, How to Defend Yourself won the 2019 Yale Drama Prize and is a 2018-19 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist. Liliana's work has been developed with OSF, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Victory Gardens, INTAR, Hedgebrook, Seattle Rep, the Playwrights Center and San Diego REP. MFA, UC San Diego, BFA, NYU Tisch. Liliana is studying to be a full spectrum doula and dreams of one day going to divinity school. They are also a director, actor and community builder who looks at theatre as a laboratory for how we might be together.
Marti Lyons (Director) returns to Victory Gardens Theater (VGT) where she most recently directed Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee and Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías. Marti is excited to direct How to Defend Yourself for VGT as part of a co-production of the play that premiered at the 2019 Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Marti directed The Niceties by Eleanor Burgess (Writers Theatre), Witch by Jen Silverman (Geffen Playhouse in LA, Writers Theatre in Chicago); Botticelli In The Fire by Jordan Tannahill (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company); The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe and Kings by Sarah Burgess (Studio Theater); Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (The Court Theatre); The Merry Wives of Windsor (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks); Short Shakes! Macbeth and Short Shakes! Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Wit (The Hypocrites); The City of Conversation by Anthony Giardina (Northlight Theatre Company). She directed Wondrous Strange by Meg Miroshnik, Martyna Majok, Jen Silverman and Jiehae Park (2016 Humana Festival) and Title And Deed by Will Eno (Lookingglass Theatre Company). Other projects include Laura Marks’ Bethany, Marks’ Mine and Will Nedved’s Body and Blood (The Gift Theatre); Catherine Treischmann’s Hot Georgia Sunday and Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar (Haven Theatre); Prowess by Ike Holter, The Peacock by Calamity West and The Last Duck by Lucas Neff (Jackalope Theatre); The Play About My Dad by Boo Killebrew (Raven Theatre); Give it all Back by Calamity West, Mai Dang Lao by David Jacobi, 9 Circles by Bill Cain, Maria/ Stuart by Jason Grote, and co-directed The Golden Dragon (Sideshow Theatre). Next Marti will direct The Scarlett Letter by Kate Hamill (South Coast Repertory Theatre), The Moors by Jen Silverman (A Red Orchid Theatre) and Sense and Sensibility (American Players Theatre). Marti was the 2015 Maggio Fellow at the Goodman Theatre. She is an ensemble member at The Gift Theatre, an Artistic Associate with Sideshow Theatre and a proud member of SDC.
Isa Arciniegas (Diana Rodriguez) Victory Gardens Theater: Fun Home. Chicago credits: Wolf Play (The Gift Theatre), First Love is the Revolution (Steep Theatre), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Emerald City Theatre), The Wolves (Goodman Theatre, Jeff award winner for Best Ensemble), Buried Child (Writers Theatre), We’re Gonna Die (Haven Theatre Company, ALTA award winner for Outstanding Actor in a Principal role in a Musical), good friday (Oracle Productions, Jeff Award nomination for Best Ensemble), You On The Moors Now and American Idiot (The Hypocrites), Romeo and Juliet (Teatro Vista), Adventures With Aladdin (Lookingglass Theatre Company with Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Regional credits: Such Things as Vampires (People’s Light Theatre), Stinky Cheese Man and Letters Home (Griffin Theatre National Tour). Isa is an ensemble member with Griffin Theatre and is represented by Gray Talent.
Anna Crivelli (Brandi) makes her Victory Gardens Theater debut. Off-Broadway: Drink with Death (La Mama), Doll's House Part 3 (Exponential Festival) Regional: How to Defend Yourself (43rd Humana Festival of New Plays), Once Five Years Pass (Williamstown), Private Lives (Dorset Theatre Festival), Appropriate (Westport Country Playhouse). Film & TV: Playing with Matches, Now you Know. Training: M.F.A. (Yale School of Drama), B.A. (Fordham University Lincoln Center).
Jayson Lee (Eggo) makes his Victory Gardens Theater debut. Chicago Credits: Hooded; or being black for dummies (First Floor Theatre) BTAA Most Promising Actor, Jeff Nomination for Best Ensemble), The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley (Northlight Theatre). Film & TV: Utopia. Education: DePaul BFA in Acting 2019.
Ariana Mahallati (Mojdeh) makes her Victory Gardens Theater debut. Regional: How to Defend Yourself (43rd Humana Festival of New American Plays). Film: Young Harper, The Broken Things. Education: Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from the University of California San Diego.
Ryan McBride (Andy) makes his Victory Gardens Theater debut. Chicago: Into the Woods (Writers Theatre); Noises Off (Windy City Playhouse - Jeff Nomination); Continuity (Goodman); Shakespeare in Love and Julius Caesar (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Brilliant Adventures (Steep); Letter’s Home and Ghosts of War (Griffin Theatre - Ensemble Member). Regional: Hand to God (Studio Theatre - Helen Hayes Nomination); Bucks County Playhouse (three seasons). Television: The Thing About Harry (Freeform), Brothers from the Suburbs (The EL), Empire and Proven Innocent (FOX), Chicago Med and Chicago Justice (NBC) and The Chi (Showtime). McBride is a CCPA graduate.
Andrea San Miguel (Nikki) makes her Victory Gardens Theater debut. Chicago: SS! Romeo & Juliet, SS! Macbeth, Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Twelfth Night (Writers Theatre). Regional: As You Like It (Guthrie Theater); As You Like It, The Recruiting Officer, Our Country’s Good, The Maids, A Flea In Her Ear, Pericles (American Players Theatre); Appoggiatura (Indiana Repertory Theatre); Alias Grace (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Jungle Theater); Our Town, Company (Theater Latté Da). TOURING: The Taming of the Shrew, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Recruiting Officer, Henry V (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks). EDUCATION: The University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program.
Netta Walker (Kara) Victory Gardens Theater: Spin Moves (Ignition Festival). Chicago credits: Yen (Raven Theater - Jeff Award for Best Supporting Performer); The Wickhams, Christmas at Pemberley (Northlight Theater); Hamlet, Grapes of Wrath (The Gift Theatre); No Child (Definition Theatre); Continuity (Goodman Theatre New Stages); Great Expectations (Silk Road Rising/Remy Bumppo Theatre); Puff: Believe It or Not! (Remy Bumppo Theatre); truth and reconciliation (Sideshow Theatre); and Coriolanus (Commission Theatre). Regional: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Milwaukee Repertory Theater). Film: Come As You Are (SXSW, Cannes). Proudly represented by the incredible women of Paonessa Talent.
Full Performance Schedule:
Previews for How to Defend Yourself are January 24-30, 2020. Previews are $25-$50. The Press opening is Friday, January 31, 2020 at 7:30pm. Regular performances run February 1-23, 2020, Tuesday – Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 3pm and 7:30pm; Sunday at 3pm. Regular performances are $31-$65.
Accessible Performance Schedule:
ASL Interpreted Performance: Friday, February 7 at 7:30pm
Word for Word (open captioning): Friday, February 7 at 7:30pm, Saturday, February 8 at 3:00pm and Wednesday, February 12 at 2:00pm
Audio Description/Touch Tour: Friday, February 7 at 7:30pm (Touch tour at 6:00pm), Sunday, February 16 at 3:00pm (Touch tour at 1:30pm)
Performances are at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park Neighborhood. For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens Box Office, 773.871.3000, email email@example.com, or visit www.victorygardens.org. Ask the Box Office about discounts for students, seniors, and those with access needs. Groups of 10 or more, call 773.634.9862 for discounted rates.
Public Programs is an event series designed to enhance your experience by exploring themes and issues
within Victory Gardens’ productions. Connecting our theater to the world beyond the stage and rehearsal room, Public Programs bridge ideas, provoke dialogue, and deepen the relationship between our audiences and our productions. All Public Programs are free and open to the public.
Public Programs are supported by the David Rockefeller Fund.
CONVERSATION WITH PLAYWRIGHT LILIANA PADILLA
THURSDAY, JANUARY 30 • 9:00 PM • POST-SHOW CONVERSATION
Join How to Defend Yourself playwright Liliana Padilla for a special post-show conversation about
bringing this piercing piece of theatre to life.
TO BE YOUNG, GIFTED, AND BLACK: A CELEBRATION OF SURVIVAL AND SISTERHOOD
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 1 • 4:00PM
Victory Gardens, in partnership with Northwestern Center for Awareness, Response, and
Education, A Long Walk Home, and Global Girls Inc., is creating space to uplift Black women and
survivors of sexual violence. Join us for free performances and conversations to celebrate survival
WORKSHOP: HOW TO HEAR YOURSELF
Sunday, February 2 | 1:30 p.m. | Victory Gardens Rehearsal Hall
In How to Defend Yourself, seven students come together to navigate complicated questions of consent, desire, and agency. What would our relationships look like if we were in better touch with our own bodies and desires? Your body is always talking to you. How can you learn to listen? Join us in this workshop centered on recognizing your own physical responses and honoring your body. Movement clothing is welcome but not required.
PANEL: STUDENTS AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 9 • 4:30PM • POST-SHOW CONVERSATION
In How to Defend Yourself, a group of students searches for strategies with which to confront sexual
violence on campus. As global attention intensifies on the college sexual assault epidemic, how
have student bodies responded? What tools do students have on and off campus to address sexual
violence? How can students claim a voice in setting school policies? Join us as we speak with college
students about how to advocate for cultural and institutional change on American campuses.
PANEL: HOW TO BE A BETTER ALLY
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16 • 4:30PM • POST-SHOW CONVERSATION
In How to Defend Yourself, two fraternity brothers join a women’s self-defense class as a gesture
of solidarity, adding assault prevention to the concerns in their “man boxes.” Sexual violence
affects people of all genders yet is traditionally seen as a women’s issue. How can men support
the struggle without de-centering female voices? Join us to learn how to be a better ally in the fight
against gender-based violence.
SALON: ART IN THE ERA OF #METOO
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20 • 9:00PM • POST-SHOW CONVERSATION
How to Defend Yourself depicts young adults grappling with the ways that sexism and gender-based
violence have shaped their concept of sexual relationships. In the wake of the #metoo movement,
how have artists addressed ideas like sexuality, consent, and misogyny through their work? Join us
in a celebration of work by female Chicago artists dedicated to speaking truth to power.
About Victory Gardens Theater
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Executive 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, Ralla Klepak Trust for the Performing Arts, 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.
Major funders also include: Allstate, Alphawood Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (with Year of Chicago Theatre funding from BMO Harris Bank and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation), Edgerton Foundation, Exelon, The Harvey L. Miller Supporting Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable
Additional funding this season Robert and Isabelle Bass Foundation Inc., Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, Capital Group Private Client Services, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, ComEd, Conagra Brands Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Golden Country Oriental Foods, Goldman Sachs, John R. Halligan Foundation, Illinois Humanities Council (with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Illinois General Assembly), ITW, MAP Fund, Mayer Brown LLP, The Robert R.
McCormick Foundation, McKinsey Company, 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, The Poetry Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts, Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Wrightwood Neighbors Foundation.
In-kind support is provided by: Italian Village Restaurants, Southwest Airlines, Suite Home Chicago, and Whole Foods Market.
Capital improvement support from Landmarks Illinois Barbara and Thomas Donnelley Preservation Fund, and 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 @victorygardenstheater.
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