I just saw a terrific play in the Wagner New Play Festival at UCSD . “How to Defend Yourself,” by Lily Padilla, a third year MFA student in the playwriting program, is a knockout. Another of her works was in the La Jolla Playhouse WoW Festival (“And Then You Wait”).

This one has an offstage centerpiece: a campus rape, which engenders all manner of feelings, among seven fellow students who know the victim and the perpetrators — mostly about sex, but also consent and identity, body issues, self-defense, and so much more. The dialogue is so genuine, you really feel like a voyeur. Five of the seven actors are undergraduates – and they’re amazing.

As the promotional material describes this DIY self-defense workshop, “Learning self-defense becomes a channel for their rage, anxiety, confusion, trauma and desire – lots of desire. HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF explores what you want, how to ask for it, and the insidious ways rape culture steals one’s body and sense of belonging.”

If you have any interest in what’s going on these days on campuses, and what young people are thinking and dealing with on a daily basis, you REALLY should see this play.

There are four more performances: May 12, 14, 16, 17. Don’t miss it. Get info and tix at: