I wasn’t aware there was such a big “get blood on me” community here in the District.
“Surprisingly, there were a lot of people who were exactly in that position! They’d want to sit in the front row and get blood on them,” Zavistovich said. “And we were happy to oblige, but it wasn’t doing much for our brand reputation. We decided it was time to grow up a bit and to become more sophisticated in what it was we were trying to do.”
Just in time for the announcement of its 2013-14 season, Molotov Theatre Group is getting a makeover.
Step 1: a new catchphrase. “Our slogan, for the first four or five years of our existence, was, ‘[Expletive] it, wimps.’ Which, if you’re looking for funding, is probably not the best idea,” Zavistovich said. Now their one-liner is “art imitates death.” “And that still speaks directly to what we do,” he said. “But . . . it speaks more directly to what it is that we hope to become, which is a fully invested part of the theater scene in D.C.”
Step 2: new management. Zavistovich brought Michael Wright on board as a co-artistic director in September 2012. The local playwright, director and actor (funding artistic director of SeeNoSun OnStage; writer, producer and director of a handful of Capital Fringe Festival shows) had worked with Zavistovich in “Rock n Roll” at Studio Theatre in 2009.
Zavistovich says he’s ready “to distance myself a little bit from the behind-the-scenes stuff, which was starting to absorb all my time.” He’d been doing all the fight choreography, effects and promotion for Molotov productions; now he plans to act in all three of the 2013-14 shows and delegate some of his old responsibilities. “It turns us into more of a legitimate theater company if we’re not doing it all ourselves,” Zavistovich said.
And Step 3: more money. The two are looking into unconventional methods of raising money for the show, drawing on their experiences outside of the arts — Wright worked in sales at Xerox, Zavistovich has a PR and branding background — to attract corporate sponsorships.
One initiative that’s already up and running is the Molotov Literacy Project. Molotov records “theatrically enhanced” (actors performing voices, sound effects for gunshots, etc.) audiobooks of classic English-language horror stories such as “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” that are sold as a package deal with the text of the stories on an e-reader. The project is aimed at improving adult literacy. “It keeps with our educational charter,” Zavistovich said, and corporations can sponsor an audiobook or a certain number of downloads.