"20% Theatre is - hands down - the most courageous theatre company in the Twin Cities."
Call for Artists
How to Help

The 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities is committed to supporting and vigorously promoting the work of female and transgender theatre artists, and celebrating the unique contribution of these artists to social justice and human rights.

In 2002, the NY Council on the Arts released the results of a 3-year study revealing alarming statistics that roughly only 20% of professional theatre artists today are women. Although women submit about half of all the works available to artistic directors, only 16% of produced plays are by women, and 17% have female directors. Similarly, less than 5% of transgender/gender non-conforming theatre artists are welcomed onstage or backstage in our country. 20% Theatre was formed in January 2006 to change all of this, and is devoted to providing Twin Cities and surrounding audiences with contemporary, ground-breaking, queer theatre. In just over six years we have produced over 20 plays (including many world and regional premieres, sold-out performances, and productions that have gone on to tour locally and nationally), and have provided artistic opportunities to over 300 local female, transgender, and allied directors, performers, designers, and technicians. We produce plays that others won’t. We employ emerging artists when no one else will give them the experience they need to advance in their career. We give voice to underrepresented artists. We are a theatre for social change.


Claire Avitabile (Executive Artistic Director/Founder) has been living in the Twin Cities for six years, since her move from Massachusetts in August 2005. For 20%, Claire has directed David's Redhaired Death by Sherry Kramer, Lashings of Whipped Cream by Fiona Samuel, The Second Coming of Joan of Arc by Carolyn Gage, Hot ‘n’ Throbbing by Paula Vogel, Standards of Care by Tobias K. Davis, Perfect Pie by Judith Thompson, After Juliet by Sharman Macdonald, Celeste and Starla Save Todd and Win Back the Day by Francesca Sanders, the critically acclaimed Anon by Kate Robin, That Face by Polly Stenham, and the world premiere of The Birth of Venus by Lisa Flora Meyers. Other local credits include directing Desperation Panties for Freshwater Theatre, and Biloxi Blues and The Diary of Anne Frank for the Sabes Jewish Community Center where she currently works as Director of Performing Arts. Claire Avitabile
Blythe Davis (Founder/House Manager/Graphic Design) is a Hope College graduate in psychology and women’s studies, and is most interested in the psyche of the actor and the psyche of the character written on the page - and how the two blend or clash on stage. Blythe assistant directed Hot ‘n’ Throbbing by Paula Vogel, and enjoys dabbling in set design/construction. She also manages the company website, is our production photographer, and designs many marketing materials. When not working for 20%, Blythe helps individuals heal their bodies as a massage and shiatsu therapist.

Shannon Forney is a puppeteer/performer/director inspired by creating theatre environments that play with vintage objects, found sounds, and the folly of being human. Favorite recent and local projects include performing in Animal Farm directed by Jon Ferguson (Southern Theater 08); Revolutionary Love 2 by Sharon Hayes (Queer Public Protest/Performance for the recent RNC in St. Paul); elephant shoes & olive juice (20% Theatre's original ensemble creation for the 08 MN Fringe Festival); Uncle Sergei (Twin Cities Chekhov Festival 07); Instruments of Tortuga shadow puppet show by Rolle/Lorio/Forney from Nina Rolle’s ZenCabaret (adapted and performed at the Heart of the Beast Theater 07); and Lashings of Whipped Cream by Fiona Samuel (20% Theater Company Twin Cities). Shannon is a proud graduate of Oberlin College, and happily lives with her partner and two dogs in zip code 55104.


Anthony Neuman has been seen on stage with 20% as David in Standards of Care and played a part in the sold-out production of The Naked I: Monologues from Beyond the Binary. He also produced and starred in the world premiere of his one-act play, Artichoke Hearts, as part of 20% Theatre's The Fresh Five in January 2010.


Mykel Pennington graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1997 with a degree in Drama. In the Twin Cities, Mykel has worked with Cromulent Shakespeare Theatre Company (Sense and Sensibility), 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities (Hot 'n' Throbbing, Perfect Pie, The Naked I, and That Face), Chameleon Theatre Circle (Gaggle of Saints - winner of Best of Festival at MACT, and Crossing Event Horizon), Bad Attitude Production (Love's Labours Lost), and Urban Samurai Productions (Touch). Before moving to Minneapolis in 2006, Mykel performed with various theatre companies in the Seattle and Memphis areas. When not acting on stage, she enjoys entertaining her two beautiful daughters, Sophia and Honora and spending time with her husband, Sean.

Ariel Pinkerton is a University of Minnesota graduate with a B.A. in theatre arts. She has most recently been seen in 3.1.81 with 20%, TV Men and Orestes with nimbus theatre, Sense & Sensibility with Cromulent Shakespeare, as well as in the #1 2007 Fringe hit Wonderland as the DJ Rabbit, and Lyric Arts Mainstage's The Snow Queen and the Goblin as the Snow Queen. In addition to performing, Ariel is a lighting designer and the author of Teach Me Tonight which recently toured Minnesota High Schools as part of a Sexual Abuse Awareness program, and was featured as part of 20% Theatre TC’s 2008-2009 season.
Hailing from San Francisco California, Lacey Piotter has been seen performing all over the Cities for the past three years with numerous companies, including Theatre Arlo, Theatre Unbound, Freshwater Theatre, Ministry of Cultural Warfare, Workhouse, Savage Umbrella, 3AM, National Theatre for Children, and the occasional singing telegram. Lacey and fiance John Zeiler are most recently known for their sold-out smash hit of the 2010 Minnesota Fringe, An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein. Credits with 20% Theatre Company include Standards of Care, The Naked I: Monologues Beyond The Binary, The Fresh Five, and Anon. Also a writer, Lacey recently had her first play, In the Weeds, produced to great acclaim at the Bryant Lake Bowl by Flower Shop Project. In her hypothetical free time, Lacey enjoys painting, yoga, watching Dexter, drinking boxed wine, and listening to guilty pleasure pop music. lacey
Renata Shaffer-Gottschalk (Resident Costume Designer) moved to Minneapolis in 2006, after graduating magna cum laude from Longwood University (Farmville, VA) with a B.F.A in Theatre Performance. With 20%, Renata has designed Perfect Pie, The Naked I, Teach Me Tonight, After Juliet, Celeste and Starla Save Todd and Win Back the Day, Anon, Helen, That Face and The Birth of Venus. Other design credits include costumes for Mixed Blood Theatre (Somebody/Nobody, Avenue Q), Workhaus Collective (Little Eyes with the Guthrie Theater), Walking Shadow Theatre Company (Amazons and their Men, Mojo, The Crowd You're In With), Minneapolis Musical Theatre (Chess, Summer of ’42 and Zanna Don’t) and Theatre Or (Biloxi Blues).  When not designing costumes, she loves working with children, dying her hair outrageous colors, performing with Le Cirque Rouge, and getting into mischief with her husband Ryan.
Danielle Siver has lived and performed in the Twin Cities since 2005. In that time, she has worked with 20% Theatre Company on several shows, including elephant shoes & olive juice, The Naked I: Monologues from Beyond the Binary, 4:48 Psychosis, After Juliet, and Celeste & Starla Save Todd & Win Back the Day. She has also performed with other local companies including Upright Egg Theatre Company, Theatre Pro Rata, Theatre Or, and many others. In her spare time, Danielle enjoys laughing, playing, and hijinx of all kinds.

Katie Starks has been an avid viewer and participant of twin cities theatre for over 7 years now and has fallen head over heels in love. As a scared 21-year-old girl from Iowa, Katie moved here not knowing a soul (Mary Tyler Moore style – of course) but has made it after all. Katie graduated from Metropolitan State University with a BA in theatre in 2007, where she was blessed to have worked with the amazing Camille D’Ambrose, including her final production, Macbeth.  Katie has worked with several Twin Cities theatre companies, including  Theatre Unbound, Urban Samurai, Commedia Beauregard, Nimbus, The Flowershop Project and The Directors Studios.  Katie is also an incredibly proud and excited company member of Freshwater Theatre Company.


Ruth Virkus is a native Minnesotan and National Merit Scholarship recipient who graduated with honors from the University of Minnesota Morris with degrees in history and theatre. Here in Minneapolis, Ruth worked for several years with The Flower Shop Project, a theatre company she founded with other graduates of the UMM theatre department. During her time with FSP, Ruth acted in and co-wrote Drowning in Velvet, Dawn's Inferno, Ladies A.I.D, Auld Acquaintance, Attack of the Atomic Trash Monster's Bride, and The Fish, The Fruit and the Pet Coffin Maker. Ruth also served as FSP's head producer for Almost Got it Made and In the Weeds and did costumes for Auld Acquaintance and 9x9x9 .  Ruth's first solo writing endeavor, Preferred by Discreet Women Everywhere, eventually begat a companion piece entitled 10:00 Bistro Caprice, which will be featured as part of The Fresh Five with 20% Theatre Company this January. During the day, Ruth works as Executive Assistant and Assistant Property Manager for MSP Commercial, a real estate development firm based in St. Paul. In what little spare time she has, she continues to pursue her passions as a playwright and vegetarian cook.


Nicole Wilder received her MA in Theatre with an emphasis in Directing and Women's Studies from Miami University in August 2008. After settling in Minneapolis, she directed a few short pieces for 20% Theatre Company, including "Doctor" in The Naked I: Monologues from Beyond the Binary and "Artichoke Hearts" as part of The Fresh Five, which was 20% Theatre's showcase of up and coming area directors. Since then, she has been overjoyed to collaborate with Claire Avitabile on such projects as Celeste and Starla Save Todd and Win Back the Day and the critically acclaimed Anon.


Last Updated June 21, 2012
20% Theatre Company Twin Cities
5152 Aldrich Avenue N | Minneapolis, MN 55430 | info@tctwentypercent.org | 612.227.1188