Does the Bechdel Test Have a Place in Circus? - CircusTalk

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Does the Bechdel Test Have a Place in Circus?

There is nothing more satisfying than walking out of theatre having been inspired by an amazing circus show. However, a conversation we increasingly find ourselves having in post show conversations is the role of women in circus and the way they are represented. There have been incredible, strong, stereotype-defying women in circus for as long as there has been circus ,and their commitment to claiming space on stage cannot be overlooked. Nevertheless, whilst viewing a performance at the Mullumbimby Circus Festival, Charice raised the question of whether or not the show would pass the Bechdel Test. This began a discussion between us about the need for a framework to interrogate and understand female representation in circus today.
If you haven’t heard of the Bechdel test before, it is a set of three very simple rules that are most typically applied in the world of cinema, first seen in the comic by illustrator Alison Bechdel Dykes to Watch Out For.  The test is used to assess how much and what quality of screen time women receive in any given film. To pass the test a film: Has to have at least two [named*] women in it Who have a conversation with each other About something other than a man To give you some perspective, found that of the 2015 Academy Awards only 38.46% of films nominated for an award passed the test. Of course, such a simple test is by no means claiming to tell if a film is feminist, has interesti...
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Latonya Wiggington

Co-author Latonya Wigginton is a acrobatic performer and lover of chocolate. She runs the Melbourne feminist circus collective Tons of Sense and believes strongly in the ability of circus to break down social barriers.