In the Spotlight: Samantha Gold, Graphic Artist of Snowglobe’s ‘The Pillowman’

Montreal production of Martin McDonagh’s award-winning dark comedy features original work by local artist

An author of horror literature. A series of grisly child murders. Two brutal detectives who will stop at nothing to find a link — whether there is one or not.

Snowglobe Theatre presents Martin McDonagh’s award-winning The Pillowman – a dark comedy about abuse, censorship, and the importance of art.

For Snowglobe Theatre’s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, producer and director Peter Giser hit on the idea of projecting original art throughout the show, interactively with the action on stage. For the company’s first foray into multimedia performance, the hunt was on for the perfect graphic artist: someone who would be able to pair the right artistic style with a macabre sense of humour, who would create art not only to illustrate the action but to provide a running commentary. 

Enter Montreal artist Samantha Gold.

After studies in law, political science, and liberal arts, Samantha still felt she hadn’t found her niche. “I just didn’t like the people I encountered in it,” she says frankly. Nevertheless she went through various jobs related to the legal profession before spinal problems caused her to pull back from full-time work.  It was at that point that she turned to painting, a childhood hobby, as a coping mechanism for her pain. To her delight, “it turns out that I was good at it! I started painting more …that’s how I came back to my true calling.” Her topics often centre around issues of political and personal importance.

Samantha didn’t stop there: besides paintings, she went on to discover other areas of self-expression. “One of the wonderful things about illness is that allows you to pull back and focus on the things you wouldn’t necessarily have time to focus on if you had a day job.”

A Quacken. Get it?

She knits dolls (“I have two nieces under 6 and I started making them for them…I discovered once you had the method down it was very easy to start adlibbing and doing your own thing ”), sculpts, is a makeup artist, and writes occasional reviews for

She also keeps up a legal column to keep her hand in with her training. She doesn’t hesitate to illustrate her own writing. “I wrote an article on the federal parties leading up to the last election, and I did a collage of all my different political portraits. They’re…not very flattering.”

When Samantha’s collaboration with Snowglobe began, Peter immediately established that he wanted her contributions and ideas, rather than dictating precisely what each piece should be. “He gave me a list of notes of what he would like to have per scene [but] they weren’t very elaborate.” This left her imagination a wide berth for what could work for each scene, often resulting in several quick drafts before one was selected which satisfied both parties.

For the character of Tupolski, a self-described “violent alcoholic”, Sam originally proposed a sketch of the actor posing as Captain Morgan, before settling on a version of him hugging a bottle of Jim Beam. “Really like the Captain Morgan one though!”

“Peter’s original vision was to do the works in crayon. The problem with crayon is, they’re made for kids! So they’re not very pigmented. I thought to how it would translate to being projected and you wouldn’t get as clear and crisp an image.” Samantha eventually settled on water pastel as her principal medium, with some marker for more intricate details. “It’s basically a crayon, but the second you hit it with a wet brush, you get a much cleaner line – while still retaining the essence of crayon.”

“He represents a bad father. He is a bad father. What do you mean represents?”

Illustrating the play has given her the chance to stretch her creative muscles with quirky, eccentric material. The actors have been tickled to see her designs emerging in rehearsal, especially their portraits. 

Check out more of Samantha’s art at Usine 106U, where she is a regular exhibitor, or on her Instagram and Facebook page. And check ou The Pillowman, for 60 original stills throughout the performance!

Snowglobe Theatre presents The Pillowmanat MainLine Theatre from November 7-17. Tickets: $20/$15

Sandra D'Angelo

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