Harold Pinter’s The Hothouse tells a blisteringly funny story of a government-run institution in which the wardens may be more mad than the patients. Filled with Pinter’s biting political commentary on the perils of unchecked power, the battle for control results in absurdly comedic mayhem.
Paula Castleberry is an artist, educator and freelance illustrator/designer. After receiving her BFA at University of Florida, she landed a job at The Limited in Boston, which turned into a 15-year career in retail Visual Merchandising. Later, she worked as a graphic designer for a small Santa Monica tech company and rose to the position of Art Director.
Paula started doing freelance graphic design in 2003 and began teaching Computer Graphics classes at FIDM in downtown LA. In 2019, she started teaching traditional art at a private K-12 school. She stopped teaching at FIDM in 2020, but has continued teaching middle and high school art students remotely.
Paula loves to create with both digital and traditional media, switching between Procreate, Photoshop, Illustrator, gouache, acrylic, and watercolor and sometimes combining them with mixed media. Her art style typically incorporates a bright color palette that has a vintage vibe and is heavily influenced by the Disney and Max Fleischer cartoons she grew up with.
Check out Paula Castleberry’s work at paulacastleberry.com.
As an artist I enjoy working both digitally and with traditional materials, but the subject matter of the poster I designed for The Hothouse seemed to lend itself better to a digital process. Although it’s a comedy, there’s a cold darkness to the play, and I wanted to show the detachment and inhumanity of the main characters toward their institutionalized charges. The institution itself is depicted as a box, housing the patients in locked cells like numbered commodities, with the corrupt, selfish administrators wriggling out of the top like worms or snakes. It’s a screwball kind of Jack-In-the-Box that shows the derangement of the main characters: the apathy and alcoholism of the aptly named Mr. Lush, the naive stupidity of Mr. (sacrificial) Lamb, the sexual addiction and lust for power of Miss Cutts, the sadistic scheming of assistant Mr. Gibbs, and the amoral abuse of power by the director, Mr. Roote.
Their patients are known only by their numbers, and Mr. Roote callously confuses and abuses them, resulting in the birth of a child from 6459, who’s been raped, and the death of 6457, who was murdered and buried in an anonymous grave somewhere on the grounds of the asylum. In the poster, the sad grave is shown as very small and neglected under a pile of slush behind the building, and 6459 stares as blankly through the bars of her window as the rest of the exploited inhabitants of this hellish place, distinguished only by the fact that she’s holding a bundled infant in her arms. The infant and gravestone are repeated in the hand-lettered title, replacing the letters ‘O’ and ‘T’ respectively. The villains bob and hover obliviously above their inmates, so caught up in their individual pursuits of power and depravity that they seem not to even notice the nameless victims in their care, although Director Roote can be seen sweating a bit as he realizes that retribution for his crimes may soon be coming for him, as the other characters insinuate that their knowledge of his misdeeds might be used to finally bring him down.
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