The Sphinx Test

The Sphinx Test emerged from a series of conversations with writers and directors about establishing a strategy for exploring and expanding women’s stage roles. The Female Protagonist had been a subject of discussion over many Glass Ceilings and Vamps and Vixens conferences, and Sphinx Associate Rosalind Philips, prompted by the Bechdel Test, undertook to develop a playwright’s tool.

The Sphinx Test is a result of many hours of cultural analysis. We hope you find it useful.



Dreams and Deconstructions: Alternative Theatre in England edited by Sandy Craig, Amber Lane Press 1980
Stages in the Revolution: Political Theatre in Britain Since 1968 by Catherine Itzin, Eyre Methuen, London 1980
Strike While The Iron Is Hot: 3 plays on Sexual Politics in Theatre edited by Michelene Wandor, The Journeyman Press 1980
Understudies: Theatre and Sexual Politics by Michelene Wandor, Eyre Methuen 1981
Carry on Understudies: Theatre and Sexual Politics Michelene Wandor, Eyre Methuen 1981
The Oxford Companion to the Theatre edited by Phyllis Hartnoll, Oxford University Press 1985
The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance edited by Lizbeth Goodman with Jane de Gay, Routledge 1998
An Introduction to Feminism and Theatre by Elaine Aston, Routledge 1995
Feminist Stages by Lizbeth Goodman, Harwood Academic Publishers 1996
Herstory Volume 1: Plays by Women for Women edited by Gabrielle Griffin and Elaine Aston, Sheffield Academic Press 1991
Herstory Volume 2: Plays by Women for Women edited by Gabrielle Griffin and Elaine Aston, Sheffield Academic Press 1991
Playing with (in) the Restoration by Sara Soncini, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane 1999
Recording Women: A documentation of six theatre productions by Geraldine Cousin, Harwood Academic Publishers 2000
Mythic Women/ Real Women: Plays and Performance Pieces by Women selected by Lizbeth Goodman, Faber and Faber 2000
The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Women Playwrights edited by Elaine Aston and Janelle Reinelt, Cambridge University Press 2000
Feminism and Theatre by Sue Ellen Case and Elaine Aston, Palgrave MacMillan, 2008
Sex on Stage: Gender and Sexuality in Post-War British Theatre by A. Wyllie, University of Chicago Press, 2009
Unmaking Mimesis: Essays on Feminism and Theatre by Elin Diamond, Routledge, 1997

Downloadable Resources

Conference of Women Theatre Directors and Administrators Report 1983

Sphinx Theatre 2006

Sphinx Theatre Conference Report 2009

Sphinx Theatre Conference Report 2010

Sphinx Theatre Conference Report 2012

UPDATED Women In Theatre Survey Report 2023

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