Monday, February 8, 2010

2010, Bitches!

Brought to you from the desk of MTG Company Member Kevin Finkelstein...

I met Lucas Maloney in November of 2008, when we were both Assistant Directing a production. He was introduced to me as the Artistic Director of Molotov Theatre Group, a company I was familiar with both in name and because I had previously worked with Alex Zavistovich on some other projects.

What I didn’t know at the time was exactly how fucked up these two individuals are. But I would learn. 11 months after that meeting, you could find me onstage, on all fours on a bed, with my leather pants around my ankles getting whipped with a belt and cut with a razor before having cocaine snorted off of my bare ass.

How the fuck did this happen?

In the 14 months since I met Lucas, I’d solidified my friendship with both him and Alex, graduated from the inaugural Disturbatory, performed in Blood, Sweat & Fears II, became a company member, got cast in the next production and was given the reins to direct the summer show (more on those two later).

“Ecsorbete Ignavi” indeed, bitches.

(I’m assuming most of you know what that means, since the last blog post has been up for seven months. If not, scroll down and educate yourselves).

Working in a Grand Guignol style is like nothing else in DC. Actively finding ways to be true to the story AND freak people the fuck out has a huge appeal to me. In Blood, Sweat & Fears II, there’s a moment where Alex whips out his cock, starts masturbating, and then furiously comes all over the audience. The reactions from audience members were priceless. And folks, I gotta tell you, if you go to see theatre, and the person taking the tickets and giving out the programs offers you a plastic poncho to wear for the show, you bloody well take the plastic poncho.

In a related note, I’d like to personally send a big old “Fuck You” to the critic who thought Alex was urinating on people in the above moment. I’m willing to bet that he was the only person who didn’t recognize cum for what it is. Maybe golden showers are what gets him off, I don’t know.

Getting shot in the chest, peeing in a bottle, shoving electrodes up a woman’s vaj; these are Molotov moments that are designed to make you go “whoa!” But in a recent review, Tim Treanor, of DC Theatre Scene (http://dctheatrescene.com/) had this to say:

“…modern urban Americans are pretty much inured to things that go bump in the night.”

He does have a point. We don’t play to 1890s Paris. We play to 21st Century Washington, DC. Things that worked 120 years ago don’t always work now. The result is that audiences don’t always know what to expect. Whether it’s a BDSM aficionado from Hyattsville or a 70 year old married couple in town on vacation from Arizona, our audiences are diverse. When they walk into a Molotov show, they may or may not know that they are seeing the second oldest Grand Guignol company in America. When they walk out, they certainly have a better understanding of the style. And hopefully they’ve got some blood on them.

Looking ahead, Molotov is diving into 2010 balls first. After adding two new company members (Jenny Donovan and myself), we’ve got a season lined up that’ll blow your fucking minds, wimps. In March, we present “Mondo Andronicus,” an edited version of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus that focuses on the gore and leaves out the crap. Originally written and produced by our friends in California, The Thrillpeddlers, the moniker “Mondo” was attached to the title as an homage to the documentary-style films of the 60s (think Mondo Cane, John Alan Schwartz and the Faces of Death, and Angelo & Alfredo Castiglioni, among others). You’ll also see Skinhead Hamlet, a four page retelling of Hamlet done in a way audiences just won’t expect.

In July, Molotov presents “The Horrors of Online Dating,” a world premiere musical by resident playwright and genius Shawn Paul Northrip. Horrors is Molotov’s first musical and audiences will see just how well the Grand Guignol style of theatre can be utilized in a modern piece. Audiences will meet Judy, a femme fatale of the highest order. If you’re familiar with the writings of Mel Gordon, you know exactly what to expect. If you imagine Alice, from Alice in Wonderland, as a serial killer, you start to get a handle on what this show is about.

Finally, in October, Molotov will put up “Blood, Sweat and Fears III.” This night of theatre has become a Washington tradition, and arrives just in time for Halloween.

Time to get excited, kids. Every year, Molotov pushes the envelope a little further, and 2010 will be no exception. And it you’re not down with that, I’ve got three words for you.

“Suck it, wimps.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

Let’s See Some Shit!

Brought to you from the desk of MTG Co-Founder Alex Zavistovich...

So despite our own best efforts to sink the good ship Molotov by sticking our dirty wet fingers in the bakery-fresh pie of the local art scene, people still seem to want to take us seriously. Our latest production, a remounting of last winter’s “Closet Land” for the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival, has gotten good reviews – AND audience walkouts! The only thing we could ask for beyond that would be people getting sick in the audience (oh please, oh please…).

With that in mind, it seems to make sense to offer an overview of some commonly-used Molotov vocabulary for your incredulous reading pleasure. Just like the Molotov Manifesto (http://www.molotovtheatre.org/manifesto.html), which spells out the vocabulary of our approach to the Grand Guignol French Theatre of Horror, we pinheads at Molotov also have a vocabulary of words that we’ve made part of our day-to-day way of working.

We’re sharing this stuff with you in the hopes that it sticks. Molotov seems to be in it for the long haul, so let’s all get on the same bandwagon. How crazy would it be to have people start using these words and phrases in their normal every day conversations? Very crazy, is how.

This is the kind of sticking power a theatre company needs. We want to hang around like a bad rash on the anal cleft of the arts community. Here’s where it starts to spread:

“Awesome”: The ironic absolute opposite of surfer-dude “awesome,” or alternatively a low-key synonym. Like “shalom,” it means different things depending on the context.

Exempli gratia: You see someone in a bar, make a big production of saying hi, and he walks by without a word or acknowledging your presence. “Awesome.”

Or, on the other hand, you receive a great review and six walk-outs for the same performance. “Awesome.” (Note: Not “Awesome!” Simply “awesome.” Think of it with a lower-case “a.” You don’t want to run it into the ground with pointless enthusiasm. Please be cooler than that.)

“Because we can”: The standard response we give to questions like, “why the hell are you doing that?”, “why did you make her take her top off?”, “why a used tampon?” “why chitlins?”, “why throw up Skittles?” or “why three times in the taint?”

Sometimes that’s the only honest answer.

“Disappointing, gratuitous and sophomoric”: The Holy Trinity of purported insults or intended snipes against previous Molotov productions, that instead have become the Molotov standards of excellence. Coming soon as tattoos to the ass-cheeks of the founding members (I've claimed “disappointing” for myself.).

“Gratuitous” in particular has wormed its way into the affections of the creative pinheads behind Molotov. For Pete’s sake, this is the horror genre. Isn’t everything gratuitous in horror? Nothing really adds to the artistic merit of the form, if artistic merit should even mean a damn. We revel in gratuity. We do it because we can.

“Ecsorbete Ignavi”: The Latin translation of the Molotov motto, which in English is “Suck It Wimps.” We came up with our motto after having been accused of being disappointing, gratuitous and sophomoric (See how everything hangs together in the Molotov mythology? It’s a very tightly-controlled system of idiocy. We kind of need a historian to chronicle this stuff.).

Now, not being Latin scholars ourselves, we needed help with usage and conjugation and important things like that. So we sought the expert advice of a professor of classics from Georgetown University (who prefers we not use his name – good call, dude), and this was the best translation he could offer.

We think it comes out to “Suck it dry, those who would be cowards.” Seems there is no direct Latin translation for “wimps.” If you are sure this doesn’t mean what we think it does, then please let us know, but quick. We’re planning to have it tattooed on us as well very soon, and it would be terrible if it actually meant “I fuck corpses for money” or something like that. We’re stoopid, but we’re not stupid, you know?

Still, it’s cool how Latin makes everything sound classier. We’re a classy-sounding bunch.

“Let’s see some shit!”: The equivalent of “begin,” or – in films – “action,” this is the phrase used by Molotov directors and technical team members to signal the start of the rehearsal or performance process.

By extension, at the end of a particularly impressive rehearsal, actors might hear something like “Awesome. That was some shit.” Audience members, please feel free to say likewise to performers after the show.

“Wrong”: A one-word argument-ender. There’s no need to wallow in the pretentious psycho-babble of people arguing over artistic merits. Why exhaust yourself with having to frame a logical argument for people who don’t get what we’re doing? Life’s too short to have to think about everybody else’s harebrained notions of what’s good.

Just like the Insane Clown Posse’s fans (Juggalos, for the uninitiated) shouted down their opponents by yelling “Family!” whether it made sense to yell “Family!” or not, Molotov and its fans have one simple but effective word in their arsenal to quell opposing beliefs: “Wrong.”

Wrong. Say it. It feels good.

Wrong. It feels great. See how easy it is?

So use it on our behalf. We’d cream our jeans if we started seeing blog comments that just read “Wrong.” We’d all know where that came from.

“Molotov Wrong”: There’s “wrong” and then there’s “Molotov Wrong.” Molotov Wrong, of course, is something that’s so appalling, disturbing, disappointing, gratuitous and sophomoric that it’s elevated to something of an art form. Something so bad, it’s good.

Popthatzit.com is Molotov Wrong. Sham-Wow is Molotov Wrong. Other theater companies can be, too (Vigor Mortis, Thrillpeddlers and Landless Theatre Company are all definitely Molotov Wrong.).

So the next time you see a drunken bum accidentally peeing on another drunken bum in an alley next to a public toilet (like that happens all the time), don’t just think, “That’s wrong.” Think, “That’s Molotov Wrong.”

“Suck it wimps”: No need to re-tell this one. See “ecsorbete ignavi,” and nod knowingly to yourselves.

“That’s why we’re great”: When we’ve plumbed the depths of what’s Molotov Wrong, when we’ve redefined what’s disappointing, gratuitous and sophomoric even by our own dubious standards, when we’ve seen some shit that would make a death-row convict crap his own pants, we have put in a good day’s work. That’s what gets us up in the morning. We do it because we can.

That’s why we’re great.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Grand Guignol and the Art of Zit Popping


Brought to you from the desk of MTG Co-Founder Tara Garwood...

I have a confession to make. I am a zit popper. I admit it. I love to pop zits. The big ones, the little tiny ones, I even try to pop the ones that don’t have a head yet. When I’m in line at the grocery store behind someone with a big cream-filled pustule on the back of his neck, I can barely restrain myself from reaching out and squeezing it. I know that it’s bad for your skin. I know that it can cause scarring. I know that I should just apply some zit cream and wait for it to go away. I’ve heard all the urban legends about popping a zit on your nose and exploding your brain. And I don’t care. Because I love the feeling that comes with that moment of success, the satisfaction of having destroyed that little fucker. Ahh, sweet victory! And I especially love the pain. That sharp, focused moment of pain when the skin finally breaks and the puss comes squirting out. Without that pain, how could we ever truly appreciate the feeling of relief that follows?

It occurs to me that there is something of the art of Grand Guignol in the cycle of zit popping. In Grand Guignol (as in porno flicks, incidentally), we know that the big moment of horror (or sex, in a porno) is coming right from the start.

First, the zit appears. An infected pore begins to swell, a small mound pressing against the underside of your skin. You know immediately that you will destroy this thing, it’s only a question of when. As the intruder grows larger and stakes its claim with an angry red blotch, you carefully watch for the telltale signs that it is ready for popping. The wait is agonizing, and the longer you have to wait for it to come to a head, the more you want to destroy the thing. When the moment finally arrives, the whitehead just breaking the surface of the skin, you revel in it. The bigger the pop, the more disgusting the spray of puss and blood, the more satisfying the experience. You are both actor and audience in the Grand Guignol saga of the zit. And you love it.

Sometimes, when I don’t have any zits to pop and dreaming about attacking the zit on my Blockbuster cashier’s nose isn’t enough, I like to visit a little site called, popthatzit.com. I highly recommend it for that vicarious thrill of the pop that just you just can’t get from anything else. Mmm, I’m starting to feel the urge just thinking about it…

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Food for Thought, or, New Things to Do with an Eight Inch Sausage...


Brought to you from the desk of MTG Co-Founder Lucas Maloney...

I read a lot of newspapers. Over the past couple of months I’ve noticed a developing trend. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions…

Fresno man arrested in spice, sausage attacks

Associated Press
Monday, September 8, 2008
(09-08) 04:00 PST Fresno --

Fresno County authorities have arrested a man they say broke into the home of two farm workers, rubbed one with spices and whacked the other with a sausage before fleeing.

Fresno County sheriff's Lt. Ian Burrimond says the suspect, 22-year-old Antonio Vasquez of Fresno, was found hiding in a nearby field wearing only a T-shirt, boxer shorts and socks.

The victims told deputies they awoke Saturday morning to the stranger applying spices to one of them and striking the other with an 8-inch sausage.

Burrimond said money allegedly stolen in the burglary was recovered. The sausage was tossed away by the fleeing suspect and eaten by a dog.

Man accused of battery by sandwich
Copyright 2008 by United Press International
This news arrived on: 11/19/2008

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (UPI) -- Police in Port St. Lucie, Fla., say a man was arrested after allegedly striking his girlfriend with a sandwich while she was driving.

The police report of the incident alleges the 19-year-old victim picked up Emmanuelle Rodriguez, 19, from his mother's home Friday and began driving to their new apartment in Fort Pierce, Fla., while their 7-month-old son slept in the back seat of the vehicle, TCPalm.com reported Tuesday.

The report said the victim claims Rodriguez became angry during the ride and "started to hit her in the arm and striking her in the face with a sandwich, knocking her glasses off her face."

Rodriguez admitted arguing with his girlfriend and was quoted in the report as telling officers that he "didn't want to hit her so he threw a sandwich at her, striking her in the face (and) knocking her glasses off."

Police said Rodriguez was charged with domestic battery and child abuse. He was released from the St. Lucie County jail Saturday after posting $7,500 bail.

Man wielding plastic candy cane subdues attacker
Friday, November 28, 2008
(11-28) 14:13 PST Sacramento, CA (AP) --

A man using a candy cane lawn ornament fended off a knife-wielding neighbor who had been attacking holiday guests at a Sacramento home.

Police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong says the man used the two-foot-tall plastic ornament to subdue the attacker until officers arrived.

He says the 49-year-old suspect became intoxicated, went over to a neighbor's home on Thanksgiving and began waving a kitchen knife at people gathered on the lawn.

He cut several peoples' clothing before one of them decided to fight back.

Police say the man with the knife was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. The guest who took up the candy cane was not arrested because police determined he acted in self-defense.

Man allegedly assaults girlfriend with burger
Thu Dec 4, 11:28 pm ET
Associated Press

VERO BEACH, Fla. – A Vero Beach man faces a domestic violence charge after authorities said he assaulted his girlfriend with a cheeseburger. An Indian River County Sheriff's Office arrest report said a 22-year-old man and his girlfriend got into an argument as they sat in a car in front of their home.

The report said the man would not let the woman out of the vehicle, so she threw his drink out of the car. In response, the man allegedly grabbed her arm and smashed the cheeseburger into her face. The pair got out of the car, and authorities say the man again took the McDonald's sandwich and put it on her face.

The man was released on $1,000 bond Wednesday.

I’m just waiting for an armed robbery with a Fig Newton… or if someone really meant business, durian fruit. For those who might not be in the know, durian fruit is an Asian “delicacy” known for its repulsive odor and even worse taste. A quick online search will yield many colorful descriptions. I like to think of it as a nice balance of garbage rotting in the sun, road kill, and forgotten onions in the back of the pantry. This smell is so potent that a frozen fruit ball enclosed in a Tupperware container, shrink wrapped, and in a freezer bag still leaves a detectable scent. As far as texture goes, Durian’s stringy pulp is akin to a hybrid of pumpkin flesh and puss custard. Hungry yet? It is one of those rare foods that not only has a strong aftertaste, but an unavoidable “pretaste.” So, if you need some serious edible arms, a unique way to celebrate a special occasion, or just feel like clearing a room and making yourself sick in the process, look no further than the mighty durian.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Suck It Wimps: Bringing Down "The Human Condition"

Let’s get something straight, right from the get-go: This is Molotov Theatre Group. It’s not Snuggle Bunnies Theatre. It’s not Care Bears Theatre. People looking for their share of warm fuzzies or deep thinking can just hold hands around the campfire with all the other navel-gazing space cowboys.

This ain’t your mother’s theatre company. Don’t come around here looking for spiritual insight into our place in the cosmic muffin. We don’t buy it, we don’t sell it, and we sure as hell aren’t going to waste anybody’s time pretending we have the answers – or that we care what the answers may be.

Molotov Theatre Group was founded because we were tired of the boring, clich├ęd “struggle to understand the human condition” that every second or third theatre company on the planet claims as its birthright. Screw that noise. Why bother wrapping a riddle in an enigma in a baloney sandwich?

Why ask why? Shit happens – sometimes for a reason, sometimes for no reason at all. People hurt people. Stuff gets broken. Things fall apart. Do you really want to waste your money on figuring out that crap, when there’s much more gut-busting crap you could be spending your money on? If not, then great, you’ve finally got a place to go: Molotov Theatre Group.

When the founders of Molotov realized we all had the same interest in the nearly forgotten tradition of the Grand Guignol French theatre of horror, we knew we were on to something. This was theatre for the common folks. Horror, disease, degradation – the regular shitstorm of accelerated weirdness that spells out every clock-punching hour of life in the world today.

We are the farthest thing from a critic’s darling. Molotov’s work has been called out in the press as “sophomoric,” “gratuitous” and “disappointing.” We’ve even turned off some people because they say we don’t respect our audiences.

Hell, yes, we’ll play that game. Look up the word “sophomoric.” Hey, don’t even bother, we’ll do it for you: “Conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature.”

This from the bunch who think they can get insight into the “human condition” from a play. Excuse us while we take a moment to sigh.

Sigh.

Look, if you want to spend your time thinking about stuff that can’t be answered, more power to you. To you, we probably do come across as sophomoric, gratuitous and disappointing, because we don’t expect to have the heavy knots untied and laid out on a silver platter in 90 minutes plus intermission.

We don’t explore the human condition. We hold a mirror up to the sweaty, anxious, paranoid dark side of each of us. We whistle in the graveyard, we laugh on the way to the gallows. We do it because that’s what people do.

The thing in itself is the thing in itself. We make the dark funny or creepy. Because of that, the light is brighter by comparison. So who respects the audience more – the moldy snoot who thinks the tough questions can be answered in a few hundred lines, or the person who shakes you by the shoulders and tells you to OPEN YOUR EYES, TAKE A GOOD LOOK AROUND, AND THINK FOR YOURSELF?

We’re not for everybody. If you think you can handle it, there’s a place here for you.

For all the rest of you wimps:

Suck it.