About Us

Photo of Pinky Swear Productions original company members circa 2009.Pinky Swear’s Mission is to produce modern plays with well-​crafted, believable, engaging women’s roles where people talk to each other and things happen. Our productions are a little funny, a little dark, and a lot entertaining.

Our goals are to:

• Build a company in which local theatre artists can make a living in our community.

• Raise the profile of women’s voices in theatre by hiring women artists and technicians whenever possible.

• Enable artists to experiment with new avenues of expression.

Pinky Swear Productions is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization.
Your contribution is tax-​deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Our Story

In 2008, two friends — hungry for opportunities to do the type of theatre they wanted to do — decided there was no good reason not to start a theatre company. They made a promise to do just that and the result was Pinky Swear Productions.

In 2009, Pinky Swear produced the critically acclaimed Freakshow as part of the Capital Fringe Festival. Under the direction of Lise Bruneau, Freakshow was named a Pick of the Fringe by DC Theatre Scene.

In 2010, Pinky Swear decided to expand into cabaret, producing the sold-​out Valentine’s Day show Singing Our Hearts Out at the Bethesda Theatre featuring a cast of ten women. DC Theatre Scene called the production “the perfect Valentine’s Day gift” from “some of the most talented women in our area.” Due to the success of that show, City Artistic Partnerships invited Pinky Swear to perform a two-​night cabaret for Warehouse Theater’s Warehouse or Bust in May 2010. Pinky Swear returned to the Capital Fringe Festival in July 2010 with Be Here Now, an update and homage to Chekhov’s Three Sisters.

Starting in 2011, Pinky Swear developed a new cabaret series, Cabaret XXX, for the Capital Fringe Festival. These have become festival mainstays, selling out night after night and winning the award for Best Musical in 2011. The first was subtitled Les Femmes Fatales and dealt with breakups. The second, Love the One You’re With, was all about sex. Last 2013’s added a Y chromosome and featured our first male singer with Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are? 2014 features the next installment, Break on Through. Catch us at Capital Fringe Festival in July 2014.

Pinky Swear launched its first full season of full-​length shows in December, 2011 with Marni Penning’s Carol’s Christmas. We followed that with Marisa Wegrzyn’s Killing Women in April of 2012. In 2013, we had our most active season, beginning with The Unclear Family, a repertory of three plays - Benched, Bleed, and Smudge. These allowed us to feature local women playwrights, Allyson Currin and Renee Calarco (Benched and Bleed, respectively) and introduce DC audiences to a recent work by Rachel Axler. We followed that up with our Cabaret XXXY show for Fringe, and wound the season up with our most successful show to date, Bondage by David Henry Hwang. Bondage, a play about race set in an S&M dungeon by a Tony winning playwright, played to sold out houses at the brand new, woman-​owned Anacostia Playhouse in November of 2013.

In 2014, Pinky Swear grew by leaps and bounds. We saw our largest audiences yet with our two-​show season. First, we performed our Cabaret XXX swan song, subtitled Everybody F*cking Dies. Hey, four cabarets is enough, right? Look for another rock & roll concept show in the future! Our second show was truly our biggest show to date. Tiny House Plays was a site-​specific play written for and set in a tiny house community in DC’s historic Stronghold neighborhood. Directed by Jessica Aimone, the show brought together six playwrights, thirteen cast members, and a small army of tech and stage management crew. Over 520 people descended upon the tiny house community, including critics who gave us rave reviews.

2015 is going to be another banner year. We begin with a Friday the 13th fundraising variety show called My Bloody Valentine. In July, we are thrilled to première Stephen Spotswood’s play, The Last Burlesque. We’ve been developing this show with Steve for the past two years, including producing its debut at the Kennedy Center Page to Stage Festival in 2013. It will be a wild ride, including dance, magic, and (obviously) burlesque. We’ll wrap up the season with a brand-​new play by Donna Rachelle Reinhold, who also penned Days Gone Bye for Tiny House Plays. This will be presented for the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, a city wide event to be held in October 2015.

We are proud of how far Pinky Swear has come since our upstart beginnings. We look forward to rocking DC for many years to come.

Meet The Company

Company Leadership

Photo of Karen Lange

Karen Lange, Co-​Artistic Director

Karen is proud to be an actor, singer, improviser, and producer. Selected credits: Happy Days (Flashpoint Theater Lab), The Carolina Layaway Grail (The Welders). Previous: Perfect Arrangement (Source Festival), Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are?, Bleed, Cabaret XXX: Love the One You’re With, Killing Women, Carol’s Christmas, Cabaret XXX: Les Femmes Fatales, Be Here Now and Freakshow (Pinky Swear Productions), A Killing Game (dog & pony dc), Romeo and Juliet (Red Eye Gravy Theater Company), Life with Father (American Century Theater), .

Karen has been performing with Washington Improv Theater’s iMusical, since 2006, performing in over 200 shows. She is also part of the DC/​NY musical improv troupe Vox Pop, who can be seen in festivals around the country. She teaches improvisation and musical improvisation at Washington Improv Theater.

Photo of Allyson Harkey

Allyson Harkey, Co-​Artistic Director

Originally from Atlanta, Allyson studied theatre and music at the University of California, Berkeley, DeKalb College, and Mary Washington College. She has lived in Washington, DC, since 2000 and dreams of a time when she can winter in the Caribbean. For Pinky Swear: Bondage (Terri), Killing Women (Abby), Carol’s Christmas (Lauren), Be Here Now (Michelle), Freakshow (Amalia), and the Cabaret XXX series (Allyson, musical director). Other acting credits include The Flu Season (Epilogue), Single Carrot Theatre; In the Goldfish Bowl (Phylis Penn), Why’d Ya Make Me Wear This, Joe? (Aubra), Venus Theatre Company; Life Begins at 8:40 (Ensemble), Library of Congress; The Saint Plays (Ensemble), Factory 449; Romeo and Juliet (Lord Montague), Taffety Punk Theatre Company; Debbie Does Dallas (Roberta), Landless Theatre Company; Fame (Miss Bell), 1940’s Radio Hour (Ginger Brooks), Main Street Theatre. Allyson is also the voice of the National Park Service’s audio services for the visually impaired.

Photo of Toni Rae Brotons

Toni Rae Salmi, Resident Director

Toni Rae serves as Pinky Swear Productions’ Resident Director. She’s been performing in the DC area since 1999. For Pinky Swear: Bondage (Director); Benched (Meghan); Cabaret XXX: Les Femmes Fatales (director/​performer – Capital Fringe Festival’s Pick of the Fringe, Best Musical), Cabaret XXX: Love the One You’re With (director/​performer), Carol’s Christmas (director). Other acting credits include Act A Lady (Dorothy), The Hub Theatre Company; Blood Wedding (Mother-​In-​Law), Constellation Theatre Company; Romeo & Juliet (Nurse), Measure for Measure (Lucio), and Julius Caesar (Calphurnia), Taffety Punk Theatre Company; Mulan (Mushu) and Junie B. Jones and A Little Monkey Business (Lucille/​Mom – Helen Hayes Nomination), Imagination Stage; Homokay’s Medea (Medea), Venus Theatre, The Spitfire Grill (Percy), Theater Alliance; Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Mrs. Bucket), The Kennedy Center Theatre for Young Audiences; One Good Marriage (Steph), MetroStage; Man of LaMancha (Aldonza), Keegan Theatre, and The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (Iris), The American Century Theater.

Ryan Maxwell

Ryan is a director and photographer. Recently, he was dramaturgy assistant for Daniel Beaty’s THE TALLEST TREE IN THE FOREST at Arena Stage, directed by Moisés Kaufman. Also at Arena, he was directing assistant to David Esbjornson on Arena’s production of GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER. In DC, he has directed for PinkySwear Productions (Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are?), the Inkwell, the Source Festival, the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival, Adventure Theatre MTC, Young Playwrights’ Theatre, and Flying V. Before landing in DC, Ryan spent two years as Artistic Associate at Commonwealth Shakespeare Company in Boston, directing touring productions and assisting artistic director Steve Maler on SHAKESPEARE ON THE COMMON. He was also assistant director for Anthony Rapp’s WITHOUT YOU at the 2010 New York Musical Theatre Festival.

Ryan is a proud member of Young Playwrights’ Theater’s company of artists, Flying V Theatre, InstantDC, and Pinky Swear Productions.

Company Members

John Bavoso

John Bavoso is a DC-​based playwright, editor, copywriter, and blogger who’s thrilled to be joining Pinky Swear Productions as an associate! His first play, Olizzia, premiered at the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival and prompted DC Metro Theatre Arts to dub him “a playwright to watch out for.” His work has appeared on websites like Jezebel​.com, Lambda Literary Review, and DC Theatre Scene and in magazines such as the Diplomatic Courier, the 2009 G8 Summit Magazine, and Metro Weekly.

Joan Cummins

Joan Cummins, is a director, dramaturg, teaching artist, and jack-​of-​all-​trades theater-​maker. In addition to her work with Pinky Swear, she is an artistic collaborator with dog & pony dc on their play TOAST and on the upcoming Squares. Recent dramaturgy includes work on Trash Story at UCLA’s TFT and on Gypsy at Signature Theatre. In her partnership with local playwright Alexandra Petri, she produced and directed Miss Emma’s Matchmaking Agency for Literary Characters and Tragedy Averted at the Capital Fringe Festival. She worked as the Company Manager for the Kennedy Center’s production of Side Show, and teaches with Signature Theatre and at Adventure Theatre-​MTC. She tends to enjoy books with wizards in them.

Liz Gossens

Liz Gossens fell in love with theatrical costume as a young age, when she visited the Washington Opera costume storage. Her first acting role was as head cheerleader in her kindergarten production, The ‘S’ Show. Liz continued to act well into college, when she realized she much preferred being backstage, helping the productions come to life through design. She assisted the costume design department at the University of Georgia for King Lear, Noises Off, Polaroid Stories and Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. She also had a dual role in Athens, GA’s Town & Gown production, Henry IV Parts I & II, costuming the show and playing Mistress Quickly. Liz has a degree in Theatre, Film and Media Studies from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where she had the opportunity to design costumes for Polaroid Stories, Looking for Taro Kaja, Suburbia, and others.

Liz has worked with Pinky Swear since the summer of 2013, when she had the pleasure of costuming Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are? for the Fringe Festival, followed by Bondage, Cabaret XXX: Everyone F*cking Dies and Tiny House Plays. When she’s not working on costumes, Liz is a communications and PR professional in the education sector.

Amanda C. Herman

Amanda C. Herman is excited to join PSP as an associate company member! Amanda is a freelance director/​producer/​stage manager/​actor/​singer/​teacher/​writer/​basically-​everything-​er. Amanda recently moved back to the DC area and is currently the Development Intern at Shakespeare Theatre Company and Artistic Development/​Directing Intern at Forum Theatre. She has worked in arts administration/​management at Berkshire Theatre Festival, Asolo Repertory Theatre and NextStop Theatre. In her non-​theatre life, Amanda is a substitute teacher and proofreads audiobooks. Amanda grew up in Northern Virginia and recently earned a BA in Theatre and Dance from James Madison University. www​.aman​dacher​man​.com

Karina Hilleard

Karina gained a first class BA Honors Degree in Acting for Theatre at Bath SPA — School of Music and Performing Arts in her homeland Great Britain. Local theatre credits include: Chesapeake Shakespeare — Richard II (Duchess of York/​1st Lady), Theater Alliance – Wonderful World of Dissocia (Lisa), Pinky Swear Productions — Benched (Timby), The Washington Rogues – Agents of Azeroth (Mom). International credits include: Heresies (Leah) — Bristol Old Vic, No Blind Faith (Emma) — Theatre Royal, Anna Christie (Anna) — Full-​Tilt, Agamemnon (Clytemnestra) — Hammerpuzzle, Macbeth (Witch) — Bath Shakespeare Festival. Karina is a teaching artist for Shakespeare Theatre Company DC, Educational Theatre Company — Shakespeare In Schools Program VA and Imagination Stage MD. Karina was crowned monologue madness champion 2013. www​.kari​nahil​leard​.com

Melissa Hmelnicky

Melissa is thrilled to be joining Pinky Swear Productions as a company member after her associateship! Melissa has been working in DC area theatre since 2007 and her area credits include: Pinky Swear Productions: Bondage (parlor dominatrix) and Smudge (Colby); Forum Theatre: We Tiresias (Woman Tiresias); Capital Fringe Festival: Stephen Spotswood’s The Sisters of Ellery Hollow (Abby) and Adequate Players’ The Nina Variations (Nina); Wandering Souls: Reflections: Plays from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital (ensemble) and Twelfth Night (Maria); Washington Shakespeare Company: Juno and the Paycock (Mary Boyle), The Cherry Orchard (Anya) and Red Noses (Sonnerie); Maryland Shakespeare Festival — Bare Bard: Measure for Measure (Juliet); American Century Theatre: A Piece of My Heart (Martha O’Neill); Keegan Theatre: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (US: Candy Starr; Ireland: Candy Starr/​Nurse Flinn) and The Importance of Being Earnest (Lane/​Merriman). Melissa proudly holds a BA in Drama from The Catholic University of America.

Kenny Neal

Kenny Neal has designed local productions including Bondage for Pinky Swear Productions, Choir Boy at Studio Theatre, Bat Boy: The Musical at 1st Stage, Cancun at GALA Hispanic Theatre, Caesar & DADAat WSC Avant Bard, Cherry Smoke at Round House, and The Constellation at Active Cultures. His local design for theatre for young audiences includes Pinkalicious, Miss Nelson is Missing, Big Nate: The Musical, A Little House Christmas, The Snowy Day at Adventure Theatre MTC and Fábulas Mayas at GALA Hispanic Theatre. His educational theatre work includes Bessie & Bill: Black Wings in Flight at Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater and Aftershock and Anne & Emmett with Signature in the Schools. His student productions include Spring Awakening and Inherit the Wind at American University and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo at Bowie State University. A graduate of the music program at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Kenny is also a company member at Young Playwrights’ Theater and works as an educational media producer at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Natalie Piegari

Natalie is a DC-​based playwright and actor with a BA in Theatre from the University of Maryland. Plays she has written include Safe as Houses, Left/​Right, Sunday at St. Jude’s, Trash, the Knight’s Tale in Pointless Theatre Company’s production of Canterbury and Monster Match in Rorschach Theatre’s Fall 2014 Klecksography: Haunting Monsters. Her plays have been workshopped and read at the University of Maryland and Mobtown Players in Baltimore. She has worked as an actor at the University of Maryland, the National Portrait Gallery, Damascus Theatre Company, Odd Act, Pointless Theatre Company, Pace Productions, Montgomery College, and as a company member of Pussy REP in That Kind of Girl at Capitol Fringe Festival 2014.

Donna Rachelle Reinhold

Donna Reinhold is a professional Stage Manager, Playwright, and Dramaturg who has been working in the DC Area since 2010. Donna has been fortunate to be involved with many theatres in the greater DC area and is the Production Manager at NextStop Theatre Co in Herndon. Donna loves all things literary, silly, theatrical and feline, and has an unhealthy obsession with cross-​referenced databases and her Google Calendar(s). Donna received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Dramaturgy from the University of Oklahoma, and lives in Fairfax with her husband and Charlie Cat. Visit her at thanky​ouhalfhour​.tum​blr​.com and @DonnaTronna

Shane Solo
Born of blood and fire in a frozen tundra, Shane Solo snuck out with a BFA in Theatre Arts from Minnesota State University and subsequently relinquished his title of King in the North. His theatre accomplishments aren’t all that impressive, but include acting, directing, and playwriting. For Pinky Swear: Bondage (Assistant Director), Smudge (Actor).

Stephen Spotswood

Stephen Spotswood is a DC-​based playwright, educator, and journalist. He received his MFA in Playwriting from Catholic University in 2009. Produced works include: In The Forest, She Grew Fangs (Washington Rogues); We Tiresias (Best Drama, Capital Fringe Festival 2012); When the Stars Go Out (Bright Alchemy Theatre); Sisters of Ellery Hollow; The Resurrectionist King (Active Cultures Theatre); Off A Broken Road (Imagination Stage); and A Cre@tion Story for Naomi(Bright Alchemy). Along with being an artistic associate with Pinky Swear, he’s also a member of Forum Theatre’s artist ensemble. You can follow him on Twitter at @playwrightsteve.

Brittany Alyse Willis

Brittany Alyse Willis is a transplant from Texas where she received her BA in Theatre and worked with Sundown Collaborative Theatre as an actor, PR committee member and designer. In 2014, Sundown produced Brittany’s first play, paper backs. Brittany has published poems with Apropos Literary Journal and shufPoetry. Sometimes she tweets about poop culture at @feelingfickle.

*yes, she means poop culture. That is not a typo.

Previous company members: We thank them for helping us grow!

Jessica Aimone

Colin Brush

Maureen Boman

Amy Couchoud

Christina Frank

Dexter Hamlett

Christopher Herring

Laura Esti Miller

Tori Miller-​Liu

Rachel Lee Poole

Lauren Uberman

Anastasia Wilson

Halah Zenhom

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