Talking gender and representation on stage.
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What we do….
Bechdel Theatre began as a campaign to get theatre-goers using the Bechdel test* to start conversations about on-stage representations of women**.
We use the Bechdel test (which is usually applied to films) to reach feminist audiences who are passionate about gender and representation on screen, but might not go to the theatre as regularly. We let them know about stage shows that they may want to see.
Online, we use social media to signal-boost shows of every style and scale by under-represented artists. We exist to help feminist viewers choose shows they may be interested to see, and to help artists to get the audiences and recognition that they deserve. Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Offline, we lend our logo to production posters at theatre festivals such as Edinburgh, Brighton Fringe, and VAULT. Our stickers help posters stand out from the crowd and appeal to audience members who care about gender and representation.
Bechdel Theatre Podcast is hosted by Beth Watson and Pippa Sa. It includes show recommendations, interviews and discussions about gender and representation on stage.
In a feature called #BringAFeministFriend, the podcast features feminists from non-theatre backgrounds and industries talking about how theatre shows contrast, compare, and relate to other arts, media, and culture.
Our blog features feminist commentary, lists of recommendations, and mini-reviews for plays and productions that do more than pass the Bechdel test.
We update it during theatre festivals and at key points throughout the year: whenever there are just TOO MANY feminist theatre events going on to fit into a a tweet or list at the end of our podcast episodes!
We generate new work representing a diverse range of authentic characters and relationships by collecting recordings of real-life Bechdel test passing conversations to use as inspiration for new plays.
We ask our followers to record their own conversations, then we give the recordings to playwrights, who create new work in response to what they have heard.
The most recent plays in the Bechdel Testing Life project were written by Isley Lynn, Guleraana Mir, Rabiah Hussain, Lizzie Milton, Bridget Minamore and Melissa Dunne, and were performed at The Bunker and Theatre Deli’s Old Library.
We facilitate deeper discussion of gender and representation on stage in pop-up conversations that we co-host with theatres and production companies who want to celebrate a show they’re staging which passes the test with flying colours.
An open and accessible alternative to formal Q&As, Bechdel Theatre conversations take place in theatre bars and cafes, where creatives and audience members are invited to informally share ideas and responses on a level platform.
Bechdel Theatre workshops are designed to empower performers and theatre-makers who create, or want to create, work that passes the Bechdel test.
Our workshops were originally co-devised in collaboration with feminist theatre-makers including directors and writers Madelaine Moore, Lizzie Milton, Laura Keefe and Floriana Dezou. Workshops have been held at Spotlight, The Mono Box, Out of Joint Studios, The Pleasance, Ovalhouse, and Bristol University.
Feedback from workshop participants:
“Fun, low-pressure, and I left feeling confident in my work.”
“I felt encouraged to take risks in a way I hadn’t before.”
“You come out feeling hopeful.“
“You’ll get great feedback and be able to single out what your personal strengths are.”
To find out more details or get us in to deliver a workshop at your company, space, or university, please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org with “Workshop enquiry” in the title.
*We named Bechdel Theatre after the ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’ comic strip by Alison Bechdel, but not in collaboration with the artist herself. Alison Bechdel is not personally involved in this organisation in any way.
**Alison Bechdel uses “women” in the scene which the Bechdel test is based on. The world of the ‘Dykes To Watch Out For’ comic strips (which ran from the 1980s – 2000s) is inclusive of trans and gender non-conforming characters – we follow this example. In acknowledgement of the fact that women (trans and cis) are not the only people marginalised because of gender, we now often use the more widely inclusive term “womxn”. We also gladly cover shows by artists who may not identify as “women” or “womxn”, but may self-identify with either the Bechdel test, or our ethos as a company, because they see a lack of representation of their gender on stage.