Preview: Broken Nose Theatre Tees Up Its 2022 Bechdel Fest With Eight Plays That Pass That Test

You may know Alison Bechdel as the author and subject of the memoirish musical, Fun Home. But she’s also the source of the well-known Bechdel Test, which requires that a work of entertainment features at least two non-cis-male identifying characters in conversation about something other than a man. Broken Nose Theatre has been celebrating the Bechdel test for years with their annual festival of new short plays featuring an ensemble of femme, female-identifying, non-binary, trans and queer actors talking about things other than men. This year’s festival—Bechdel Fest 9: Next Level—showcases eight stories that center around characters on the edge of growing up, glowing up and making big decisions that take them to the next level.

These are the plays in this year’s Bechdel Fest:

Between Floors by Leah Roth Barsant, directed by Rose Hamill.

Bitch! (or That Reunion Scene in The Color Purple) by Ben F. Locke, directed by Michael Mejia.

The Ergonomic Perfection of the Rotary Phone by Brian James Polak, directed by Elizabeth Lovelady.

Middle Ages by Jennifer Blackmer, directed by Jen Poulin.

I'm a Gamer by E.M. Davis, directed by Ruben Carrazana.

Escape Route by Brittney Brown, directed by Allison Petrillo

Stress Awareness Month by Karissa Murrell Myers, directed by Christina Casano.

THEM by August Forman, directed by Spencer Diedrick.

Bechdel Fest 9: Next Level playwrights include (top, l to r) Jennifer Blackmer, Leah Roth Barsanti, Brittney Brown and E.M. Davis (bottom, l to r) August Forman, Ben F. Locke, Karissa Murrell Myers and Brian James Polak.

All the works in BNT’s perennial feminist festival are inspired by the famous Bechdel-Wallace Test, created by cartoonist Bechdel. The idea first appeared in 1985 in Bechdel’s comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. In the strip, one woman explains to another that she has three simple rules for deciding if she will see a movie: It has to have at least two women in it—who talk to each other—about  something other than a man. (Bechdel's Fun Home is currently being staged at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora.)

Bechdel Fest will play four performances only, Sunday-Wednesday, August 28–31, all at 730pm, at the Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. You can see all eight plays at each performance. Tickets are “pay-what-you-can,” allowing you to set your own price and ensuring theater remains economically accessible for all audiences. Suggested price is $25. Tickets are currently available at or by calling 773-697-3830.

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Nancy S Bishop

Nancy S. Bishop is publisher and Stages editor of Third Coast Review. She’s a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and a 2014 Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. You can read her personal writing on pop culture at, and follow her on Twitter @nsbishop. She also writes about film, books, art, architecture and design.