Es Devlin

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Es Devlin
Born Esmeralda Devlin
(1971-09-24) 24 September 1971 (age 43)
London, United Kingdom
Occupation Stage and costume designer, creative director
Spouse(s) Jack Galloway
Children 2

Esmeralda "Es" Devlin OBE (born 24 September 1971) is a multi-award-winning international English stage designer and creative director who works in opera, dance, theatre, film, television and concerts. Devlin designed the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony. Devlin was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to stage and set design.[1][2]



Devlin studied music at the Royal Academy of Music from age 12 as a Junior Exhibitioner while attending Cranbrook School in Kent.[3] She went on to gain a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature at Bristol University, writing her final dissertation on the work of the American poet Adrienne Rich. A fine art foundation course followed at Central St Martins College of Art and Design before she was accepted to study set design on the Motley Theatre Design Course in London where she was taught by the designers Percy Harris, Alison Chitty and Kandis Cook. While studying Devlin worked as a stage hand for Le Cirque Invisible – the circus created by Victoria Chaplin and Jean-Baptiste Thierrée. She also assisted the artist Damien Hirst on Agongo, an installation at the Richard de Marco Gallery in Edinburgh in 1992.


Devlin was born in Kingston upon Thames to author, campaigner and former teacher Angela Devlin, and Tim Devlin who is a former journalist.[4] Devlin lives in Peckham, South London with her husband, costume designer Jack Galloway and their two children Ry and Ludo.


On completing the Motley Theatre Design Course in 1995, Devlin was awarded the Linbury Prize for Stage Design – part of the prize was her first professional commission: Edward II for the Octagon Theatre, Bolton.[5] More projects followed in small fringe theatres in London including the Bush Theatre (pictured) where she was appointed Artistic Associate from 1997–99.[6] Devlin invited Trevor Nunn (director of the Royal National Theatre at the time) to see her work at the tiny pub theatre – he saw the show and commissioned her to design Harold Pinter's Betrayal at the National Theatre.


Devlin has gone on to design for many of the major UK theatre companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company,[7] Royal Court Theatre, Old Vic, Young Vic, Almeida Theatre, Arcola Theatre,[8] Hampstead Theatre, Soho Theatre, Duke of York's Theatre, Haymarket Theatre, Comedy Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre, Out of Joint and Theatre de Complicite plus productions in New York, Madrid, Dublin and Tokyo.

Howie the Rookie
Howie the Rookie Bush Theatre, 1999. Directed by Mark O'Rowe

Theatre credits[edit]

Production Location Director
Hamlet Barbican Theatre Lyndsey Turner
Light Shining in Buckinghamshire RNT Lyttelton Theatre Lyndsey Turner
The Nether Royal Court Theatre Jeremy Herrin
I Can't Sing Palladium Theatre Sean Foley
Machinal RoundAbout Theatre Lyndsey Turner
American Psycho Headlong / Almeida Rupert Goold
Midsummer Nights Dream TFANA NYC Julie Taymor
Robin des Bois Palais de Congres Michel Laprise
Chimerica Headlong / Almeida Lyndsey Turner
Master & Margarita Theatre de Complicite Simon McBurney
Batman World Arena Tour Anthony Van Laast
Pieces of Vincent Arcola Theatre, London Clare Lizzimore
Hecuba Royal Shakespeare Company Laurence Boswell
Spanish Golden Age Season Royal Shakespeare Company Laurence Boswell
Antony and Cleopatra Royal Shakespeare Company Michael Attenborough
Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 Royal Shakespeare Company Michael Attenborough
The Prisoner's Dilemma Royal Shakespeare Company Michael Attenborough
Betrayal National Theatre Trevor Nunn
Hinterland National Theatre Max Stafford Clark
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg West End and Broadway Laurence Boswell
The Holy Terror West End Laurence Boswell
Closer to Heaven Arts Theatre Gemma Bodinetz
Dumb Show Royal Court Theatre Terry Johnson
O Go My Man Royal Court Theatre Max Stafford Clark
Credible Witness Royal Court Theatre Upstairs Sacha Wares
Yard Gal Royal Court Theatre Upstairs Gemma Bodinetz
Hamlet Young Vic Theatre Laurence Boswell
Snake in the Grass Old Vic (Peter Hall Company) Dominic Dromgoole
Five Gold Rings Almeida Theatre Michael Attenborough
On Ego Soho Theatre Mick Gordon
Rita, Sue and Bob Too Soho Theatre Max Stafford Clark
A State Affair Soho Theatre Max Stafford Clark
Arabian Night Soho Theatre Gordon Anderson
The Death of Cool Hampstead Theatre Gemma Bodinetz
Macbeth Arcola Theatre Max Stafford Clark
Airsick Bush Theatre Mike Bradwell
One Life and Counting Bush Theatre Sacha Wares
LoveYou Too Bush Theatre Mike Bradwell
Howie the Rookie Bush Theatre Mike Bradwell
Love and Understanding Bush Theatre Mike Bradwell
PeraPalas Gate Theatre Sacha Wares
All the Ordinary Angels Royal Exchange Manchester Michael Buffong
Meat Theatre Royal Plymouth Gemma Bodinetz
Piano TPT, Tokyo Haru Nakajima
Edward II Octagon Theatre, Bolton Lawrence Till


Devlin's first major opera commission was Ernst Bloch's Macbeth in 2003 at Theater an der Wien in Vienna. She now designs for many of the major European opera houses including La Scala Milan, El Liceu Barcelona, Netherlands Opera, Copenhagen Opera House, Greek National Opera, Finnish National Opera, Theater an der Wien, Vienna Staatsoper, Dresden Semperoper, Leipzig Opera, Oper Frankfurt, Ystad Festival Opera, Scottish Opera Go Round, English Touring Opera, Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

Opera credits[edit]

Opera Theatre Director Year
Carmen Bregenz Festspiele Austria Kasper Holten 2017
Der Freischutz Royal Danish Opera Copenhagen Kasper Holten 2015
Otello The MET Opera New York Bartlett Sher 2015
City of Mahagonny Royal Opera House John Fulljames 2015
Don Giovanni Royal Opera House Kasper Holten 2014
Béatrice et Bénédict Theater an der Wien Kasper Holten 2013
Imago Glyndebourne Festival Opera Susannah Waters 2013
Les Troyens Royal Opera House David McVicar 2012
Parsifal Royal Danish Opera Keith Warner 2012
The Cunning Little Vixen Royal Danish Opera Francisco Negrin 2012
Lucrezia Borgia English National Opera Mike Figgis 2011
Die tote Stadt Finnish National Opera Kasper Holten 2010
Faust Semperoper, Dresden Keith Warner 2010
Knight Crew Glyndebourne Festival Opera John Fulljames 2010
I puritani De Nederlandse Opera Francisco Negrin 2009
Salome Royal Opera House David McVicar 2008
Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher Accademia Santa Cecilia Keith Warner 2008
Carmen English National Opera Sally Potter 2007
Billy Budd Staatsoper Hamburg Simon Phillips 2007
Gaddafi English National Opera David Freeman 2006
A Midsummer Night's Dream Staatsoper Hamburg Simon Phillips 2006
La Clemenza di Tito El Liceu, Barcelona Francisco Negrin 2006
Flammen Theater an der Wien Keith Warner 2006
Don Giovanni Theater an der Wien Keith Warner 2006
Orphee Linbury Studio Theatre Francisco Negrin 2005
Macbeth Klangbogen Vienna Keith Warner 2003
Hansel and Gretel Scottish Opera Go Round Gordon Anderson 2000
Powder Her Face Ystad Opera, Sweden Robert Chevara 1999
Fidelio English Touring Opera Robert Chevara 1998


Devlin also designs for dance – including pieces for Russell Maliphant, Rambert Dance Company, Northern Ballet Theatre, Sadlers Wells[9] and Cullberg Ballet, Sweden.

Dance credits[edit]

Production Theatre Year
Connectome Royal Ballet 2014
Rodin Project Sadlers Wells (Russell Maliphant Company) 2011
After Light II Sadlers Wells (Russell Maliphant Company) 2010
Blaze Peacock Theatre (Anthony Van Laast) 2010
After Light I Sadlers Wells (Russell Maliphant Company) 2009
Small Boats Sadlers Wells (Russell Maliphant Company) 2008
Essence Royal Opera House Linbury (Finn Walker) 2005
I Remember Red Cullberg Ballet, Stockholm (Didy Veldman) 2002
A Streetcar Named Desire Northern Ballet Theatre (Didy Veldman) 2002
God's Plenty Sadlers Wells (Russell Maliphant Company) 2000
Four Scenes Sadlers Wells (Russell Maliphant Company) 1998


In 2005 Kanye West saw images of Devlin's installation for the post punk band WIRE – a collaboration with the artists Jake and Dinos Chapman for the Only Connect Festival at the Barbican Centre. Kanye was in rehearsal for his Touch the Sky World Arena Tour. He commissioned Devlin to re-conceive his show 10 days before the first performance. More projects followed, including Jay Z and Kanye West's 'Watch the Throne' tour, Lady Gaga, Muse[10] as well as Pet Shop Boys, Nitin Sawhney, Take That, Imogen Heap, Jamie Cullum, Shakira, Lenny Kravitz, Mika and Goldfrapp; for many of these projects Devlin provided the creative direction for the performance as well as the stage design.

Devlin's notable large scale project for Take That European Stadium Progress Live in 2011, featured a 20metre high mechanical man[11] that stood up in the centre of the stadium (pictured). It was large scale stadium projects like this that led LOCOG to select Devlin and Take That's creative director Kim Gavin to conceive the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Concert credits[edit]

Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys Pandemonium Tour 2009 / 2010
Artist Concert(s) Year Director
U2 Innocence + Experience World Tour 2015 Willie Williams
Miley Cyrus Bangerz World Tour 2014 Diane Martel
Kanye West Yeezus World Tour 2013 Kanye West
PetShopBoys Electric World Tour 2013 Es Devlin
Jay-Z/ Kanye Watch the Throne World Arena Tour 2011/12 Kanye / Es Devlin
Lenny Kravitz Black &White America Arena Tour 2011 Lenny Kravitz/ Es Devlin
Take That Progress European Tour 2011 Kim Gavin
Lady Gaga Monster Ball US Arena Tour 2009/10 Haus of Gaga/Willo Perron
MUSE Resistance Stadium Tour 2010 Muse/Oli Metcalfe/Es Devlin
Goldfrapp Head First Tour 2010 Rob Sinclair/ Es Devlin
Shakira The Sun Comes Out – Arenas 2010 Felix Barrett
Mika Imaginarium World Tour 2010 Mika/ Es Devlin
Jamie Cullum The Pursuit World Tour 2010 Marc Silver
Imogen Heap Ellipse US Tour 2009 Imogen Heap/ Es Devlin
MUSE Resistance Arena World Tour 2009 Muse/Oli Metcalfe/Es Devlin
Pet Shop Boys Pandemonium World Tour 2009 PSB / Es Devlin
Take That Circus UK Stadium Tour 2009 Kim Gavin
Kanye West European Festival Tour 2009 Kanye/Willo Perron/Es Devlin
Nitin Sawhney OneDotZero /BFI at IMAX 2008 Es Devlin/Luke Halls
Mika Parc des Princes Stadium, Paris 2008 Mika/ Es Devlin
Kanye West Glow in the Dark US Arena Tour 2007 Kanye/Martin Phillips/Es
Pet Shop Boys Fundamental World Tour 2006 PSB / Es Devlin
Kanye West Touch the Sky US Arena Tour 2005 Kanye / Es Devlin
WIRE Flag: Burning Barbican 2003 WIRE / Es Devlin


Devlin's film work includes direction – a music video for Imogen Heap and a one hour film for London's London IMAX to the music of Nitin Sawhney as well as costume design for Sally Potter's feature film RAGE and production design for short films and music videos by Mike Figgis.

Film credits[edit]

Film notes Year
First Train Home Imogen Heap music video 2009
Nitin Sawhney at IMAX 1hr long film for Onedotzero /BFI Festival 2008
Film Notes Year
Rage feature film directed by Sally Potter (costume design) 2008
Hostage of love Razorlight music video directed by Mike Figgis 2008
Dreams of Miss X promo film for Agent Provocateur – Kate Moss dir. by Figgis 2007
Victoria Station by Harold Pinter – short film 2002
Snow on Saturday short film directed by Imogen Stubbs 2001
Brilliant! short film for BBC2 2000


Her TV designs include The Brit Awards 2015, MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs) – 2011 and 2010,[12] Rihanna's performances at the Grammy Awards and Brit Awards 2012, Pet Shop Boys Lifetime Achievement Award performance at the BRIT Awards 2009, a short film for BBC2 plus TV performances for Kanye West on American Idol, BET Awards and VH1 Storytellers.

Television credits[edit]

Artist Production Year
Brit Awards Overall Concept & Design 2015
Sam Smith Performance at Brit Awards 2015
Ed Sheeran Performance at Brit Awards 2015
Ed Sheeran Performance at X Factor 2014
Sam Smith Performance at X Factor 2014
U2 Performances at EMA, The Graham Norton Show and Later... with Jools Holland 2014
Miley Cyrus Performances at MTV Awards and X Factor 2013
Rihanna Performances at Grammy Awards and Brit Awards 2012
MTV EMAs Europe Music Awards – Overall Concept & Design 2011
MTV EMAs Europe Music Awards – Overall Concept & Design 2010
Kanye West BET Awards performance 2010
Kanye West Storytellers – 45-minute TV special for VH1 (&DVD) 2009
Kanye West American Idol performance of Heartless 2009
Pet Shops Boys Life Time Achievement performance Brit Awards 2009

London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony[edit]

Devlin designed the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony (under the creative direction of Kim Gavin, within a creative team formed of music director David Arnold, lighting director Patrick Woodroffe, and executive producer Stephen Daldry.[13] )


Award Year Honour
International Opera Award for Best Designer 2015 Won
Olivier Award for Best Stage Design 2015 Won
Critics Circle Award for Best Stage Design 2014 Won
Evening Standard Award for Best Stage Design 2014 Won
Olivier Award for Best Stage Design 2014 Won
Tony Award for Best Stage Design 2014 Nominated
Drum Designer of the Year Award 2014 Nominated
Critics Circle Award 2013 Won
TPi Set Designer of the Year Award 2013 Nominated
Evening Standard Award Best Set Design 2013 Nominated
Whats on Stage Award Best Set Design 2013 Nominated
TPi Set Designer of the Year Award 2012 Won
Evening Standard Award Best Set Design 2012 Nominated
TPi Set Designer of the Year Award 2011 Won
Red Magazine Creative Woman of the Year 2011 Won[14]
TPi Set Designer of the Year Award 2010 Won
The Telegraph's 100 Most Powerful Women in Britain 2010 Won[15]
Olivier Award for Best Costume Design 2006 Won
MEN Award for Best Stage Design 2005 Won
TMA Award for Best Stage Design 2000 Nominated
TMA Award for Best Stage Design 1998 Won
Linbury Prize for Stage Design 1996 Won



External links[edit]