Conor trained at Wimbledon School of Art in London and completed an MA in Scenography in Utrecht.
He has designed for theatre, opera and dance productions in the UK, Ireland and internationally.
His opera designs include productions for the Royal Opera House, Opera North, English National Opera, the Royal Swedish Opera, the Korean National Opera and many others. In the UK he has designed for the Bristol Old Vic, the Donmar Warehouse, the Royal Exchange, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Rambert Dance Company. In Ireland he has designed for the Abbey Theatre, the Gate Theatre, Rough Magic Theatre Company and Landmark Productions amongst others.
His work has been exhibited at the Prague Quadrennial, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and at the World Stage Design 2013 exhibition where he was awarded the bronze medal for exceptional achievement across all categories.
- Bronze Medal for exceptional achievement across all categories at the World Stage Design 2013
With La clemenza di Tito the aim was to allow the architecture of the space to reflect the clean, formal structure of the music. We used projection as a light source in its own right to differentiate the spaces rather than using conventional scenery. Projection mapping onto the walls, floor and a revolving electric-glass screen allowed the perspective and depth of the space to be as fluid as possible. The costumes were mainly black and contemporary with occasional bursts of colour breaking the formality.
This was a new choreography by Marguerite Donlon set to a newly commissioned score based on texts by female poets through the ages. The dancers were accompanied on stage by a soprano.
The design was a collaboration with the visual artist Mat Collishaw who provided the video imagery. The texts were our starting point as we had not heard any music before having to produce a design. I decided that the stage should be a blank canvas where the three given elements could share a space: movement, text and video. In the set we used a combination of flat monitors built into a platform with which the cast could interact as well as video projection onto tall black screens and a mirrored floor surface.
The costumes began as an extension of a blank sheet of paper; white against the black space. The dancers started in simple leotards to which they added panelled paper costumes as the piece progressed.
This was a new adaptation of Gogol’s classic satire by Roddy Doyle. We started the design process thinking about a vividly coloured storybook space in order to reflect the vibrant energy of the language. After almost completing this version the director and I felt that the production needed to be much more visceral and physical for the performers.
The final version of the set began with a simple projection screen at the front of the stage. The set then peeled back in layers to reveal the various locations in the play and finally it became a revolving ‘constructivist’ structure which the cast could climb upon.
The idea of a transformative journey is central to the design for The Magic Flute. There is a real sense of moving from darkness and chaos at the beginning towards some kind of enlightenment as we move through it. There are moments of playfulness, overtly theatrical performance, seriousness and naivety in the opera which I have tried to capture in some way in the design. We have used a stripped-back aesthetic to allow the story to unfold clearly and within that we used strong colour, simple shapes, childlike drawings and projected video animations to enhance the more illusionary aspects of the opera.
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (1941) is Brecht’s satirical allegory of the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany set in gangland Chicago in the 1930s. We decided to keep the set and costume design in the 30s as the Nazi parallels are already very clear; each character and situation had a real life equivalent in 1940s Germany. The design was roughly based on an old warehouse or a slaughterhouse where the carcasses keep piling up. The images in the play shift from the real to the surreal; a vegetable truck crashes onto the stage, machine guns fire from its rooftop, Ui appears as a giant puppet in a mock trial scene and finally his nightmares become real.
In Woman & Scarecrow the aim was to create a fluid space and atmosphere which could frame the main ideas of the play. ‘Woman’ is a character on the verge of death looking back at her life. The stage directions simply ask for a bed, a chair, a wardrobe and a cd player. We decided to create a frozen landscape as a holding place for Marina Carr’s rich, poetic language. Putting a wardrobe onto the small Peacock stage immediately seemed to create a naturalistic room so we decided that the whole room could become the wardrobe from which ‘Scarecrow’ emerges. The final set became a frozen, glass-walled box filled with snow.