Essential Self-Defense A Play

Adam Rapp; Introduction by the author

Faber & Faber



Trade Paperback

128 Pages



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In Essential Self-Defense, disgruntled misfit Yul Carroll takes a job as an attack dummy in a women’s self-defense class and finds himself mysteriously drawn to Sadie, the repressed bookworm mercilessly honing her skills on him. Meanwhile, all’s not well on the unassuming Midwestern streets of Bloggs: with local children vanishing at an alarming rate, our hero, his lady friend, and a motley assortment of poets, butchers, and punk librarians prepare to battle the darkness on the edge of town.


Praise for Essential Self-Defense

"Rapp . . . is a gifted storyteller. He makes demands on his audience, and he rewards its close attention with depth and elegance."—John Lahr, The New Yorker

"Few dramatists today write more pungent dialogue."—Robert Brustein, The New Republic

"Rapp is very gifted, and . . . he has something to say."—Bruce Weber, The New York Times

"An ambitious and prodigiously talented writer."—Charles Isherwood, Variety

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

FEAR AND LONELINESS Essential Self-Defense started out as a lark. An ex-roommate was telling me how she had been in a women's self-defense class in New York, in which she had to assault an attack dummy that was an actual man dressed in an enormous foam suit. My first question to her was, What does this man do? She told me that he simply stood there until he was put down. My second question was, Who would take a job like this? I imagined the late Andy Kaufman in some oversized Nerf costume. Theatrically, the image of a man wearing such a thing, being assaulted by a woman who intends to take
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  • Adam Rapp; Introduction by the author

  • Adam Rapp is the author of numerous plays, most notably Nocturne (Faber, 2002) and Red Light Winter (Faber, 2006) which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
  • Adam Rapp art by George O'Connor