Theater, Musicals, Opera and The Bechdel Test

Theater, Musicals, Opera and The Bechdel Test

I woke up early this morning, and while idly thinking about season planning and scene selection for acting classes, I wondered if there were any plays that passed the Bechdel Test. A quick google led me to realize that there wasn’t a database of passing plays, like there are for movies.

And so I set up out remedy that gap. I whipped together a quick google doc, put out the call on facebook and twitter, and in a couple of hours, I found myself administering a rapidly growing list of plays. I added musicals and operas as separate categories, and then a friend suggested that I add a “reject” pile to see which scripts fail the test.

The entire list is here, in a non-editable format. If you’d like to add to the list, please click here!

Here is a read-only version of list, be sure to scroll down!

Join the Conversation


  1. 60 seconds is WAY too short! The point of the Bechdel Test is that women characters are in relation to each other (not about a man, etc.) as a FEATURE of the work, not a mere mention. Up it to 15 minutes (which is STILL somewhat short) and you’ll have a much shorter list. And, it will eliminate the works that have “token” interactions.

    Alison Bechdel wrote these lines in her strip because her overwhelmingly-female characters were frustrated in trying to find a movie that met the 3 criteria. Research the strip, and I’m sure you’ll get a better sense of what the now-named “Test” is about.

    BTW, great idea! Glad I found it (thru the Boston and New England Playwrights Facebook page). Maybe you can post updates/more info there 🙂

    1. Hi Lynne,

      Thanks for the comment. The 60 second rule was actually proposed by Anita Sarkeesian (of Feminist Frequency) to ensure that AT LEAST the scene had to be be important to the plot. I’m just following her guidelines.

      I agree with you that it seems like a VERY low bar, but you would be surprised at the number of plays that were disqualified because their two females characters didn’t speak to each other for longer than 60 seconds. And in general, I’ve been reminding people that if you have to argue about whether or not a scene would make it to at least 60 seconds, it probably fails the test.

      1. Hi Michael,
        when I went into the list, it wouldn’t let me edit the list. If you could do these, that would be great.
        re: 60 seconds — if that’s all it takes, how pitiful is that?? I’m SURE Alison would be appalled. That does not constitute a relationship between two women — it is just a sound bite (grrrr). The implication of the strip, to me, is that of primacy/centrality, not “more than a moment’s notice.”
        Fun to discuss

  2. Tongue of A Bird — Ellen McLaughlin
    Last Summer at Bluefish Cove — Jane Chambers
    Trifles — Susan Glaspell
    The Ohio State Murders – Adrienne Kennedy
    Perfect Pie — Judith Thompson

Leave a comment

Have some thoughts about this article? Share them here!