About Us

Photo of Pinky Swear Productions original company members circa 2009.

PSP is a feminist theatre company that celebrates the diversity of women’s experiences by telling inclusive and subversive stories.

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 began with a Friday the 13th fundraising variety show called My Bloody Valentine. In July, we thrilled over 900 audience members with the première of Stephen Spotswood’s play, The Last Burlesque. Finally, we presented our first holiday show, Cabaret XXXmas. It was a delightful mixture of bah humbug and holiday cheer.

In 2016, Pinky Swear won the Best Musical and Best Show audience awards at the Capital Fringe Festival for our bluegrass murder ballad musical, Over Her Dead Body. The show was written and directed in house with special guests Dead Men’s Hollow, a local (mostly women!) bluegrass band. The show toured to the Shakespeare Theatre’s Happenings at Harman and to the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage as a featured show in the Page to Stage Festival.

2017 brought rock back into our shows with LIZZIE the musical, a rock opera about Lizzie Borden. Producing this show was a dream of ours for 7 years and it was awesome to finally get it. We also produced the first of three shows we developed with our resident playwrights for the 201718 season. Safe as Houses by Natalie Ann Piegari premiered in October 2017. We were delighted to bring her first full length production into the world.

Coming in 2018, Use All Available Doors by Brittany Alyse Willis and BLIGHT by John Bavoso.

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, Artistic Director

Karen is a proud DC actor, singer, improviser, and producer. Ten years later, she is still amazed that Pinky Swear exists and has done so many awesome shows.
Selected acting credits: TAME. (WSC AvantBard); Happy Days (Flashpoint Theater Lab); Assassins and code name: Cynthia (Pallas Theatre Collective); The Carolina Layaway Grail and Our National Museum of the Unforeseen Tragedy (The Welders); Perfect Arrangement (Source Festival); LIZZIE, Over Her Dead Body: A Bluegrass Benediction, the Cabaret XXX series, Bleed, Killing Women, Carol’s Christmas, Be Here Now, and Freakshow (Pinky Swear Productions); A Killing Game (dog & pony dc); Henry IV Part 1 & 2 (Brave Spirits Theater’s re-​gendered repertory, role of Falstaff); Romeo and Juliet (Red Eye Gravy Theater Company); A Bright Room Called Day (Nu Sass Productions).
Additionally, she performed with Washington Improv Theater’s iMusical: The Improvised Musical for ten years and Vox Pop, a three person musical improv troupe which has been darling of festivals across the country.
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.

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

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.

Brittany Alyse Willis

Brittany Alyse Willis is a DC-​based actor, playwright, and designer transplanted from Texas, where they received their BA in Theatre. Brittany has written plays produced in Chicago, DC, and Texas and published poems with Apropros Literary Journal and shufPoetry. Brittany serves as Pinky Swear’s resident graphic designer and is also a member of arts collective District Misfits. You can catch Brittany tweeting about process and thunder thighs @feelingfickle and find examples of their work at brit​tanyaw​illis​.com.

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

Jessica Aimone

Colin Brush

Maureen Boman

Amy Couchoud

Joan Cummins

Christina Frank

Dexter Hamlett

Allyson Harkey

Christopher Herring

Laura Esti Miller

Tori Miller-​Liu

Rachel Lee Poole

Donna Rachelle Reinhold

Shane Solo

Lauren Uberman

Anastasia Wilson

Halah Zenhom

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