Neil Armfield is a leading Australian director of theatre, opera and film. He was Artistic Director (with Rachel Healy) of the Adelaide Festival from 2017 – 2022 and was co-founder of Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre and its Artistic Director for 17 years, during which time he directed over 50 productions, with a particular focus on new and Indigenous writing, the plays of Shakespeare and Jonson, Chekhov and Gogol, Patrick White and David Hare.
Neil has directed a wide opera repertoire for The Metropolitan Opera New York, English National Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival, Chicago Lyric Opera, Zurich Opera, Bregenz Festival, Washington National Opera and regularly with Opera Australia, Canadian Opera, Welsh National Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. He has directed new operas FRANKIE and THE EIGHTH WONDER by Alan John, LOVE BURNS by Graeme Koehne and BLISS and HAMLET by Brett Dean, as well as Mozart LE NOZZE DE FIGARO, Strauss ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, Janacek JENUFA, KATYA KABANOVA, THE MAKROPOULOS CASE, and THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN and Britten THE TURN OF THE SCREW, BILLY BUDD, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, PETER GRIMES and Wagner’s DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN and TRISTAN UND ISOLDE. In 2023 he will take his Brett Dean HAMLET production to the Bavarian State Opera Munich.
Notable theatre productions include CLOUDSTREET (toured to London twice, Dublin, Zurich, New York), HAMLET (toured Australia starring Richard Roxburgh) DIARY OF A MADMAN (with Geoffrey Rush, toured to Moscow, St Petersburg, New York), EXIT THE KING (Sydney and Broadway, winning Geoffrey Rush a Tony), THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING (toured to New York), THE JUDAS KISS toured Australia starring Bille Brown in 1999, the West End in 2012 with Rupert Everett, then Brooklyn Academy of Music New York and the Royal Alexandria Theatre Toronto in 2016, with Rupert Everett reprising his role, THE SECRET RIVER adapted for theatre by Andrew Bovell and KING LEAR with Geoffrey Rush, for Sydney Theatre Company in 2015 then Edinburgh Festival in 2016 and the world premiere of David Hare’s I’M NOT RUNNING for The Royal National Theatre of London (2018)..
Neil directed the television miniseries EDENS LOST for ABC in 1988 which won 4 AFI awards including Best Director and Best Mini Series, 2 telemovies for the ABC in 1996, THE FISHERMAN’S WAKE (by Andrew Bovell), which won an ATOM Award for Best Original TV Production, and CORAL ISLAND (by Nick Enright).
In 2005 he directed and co-wrote the feature film CANDY, starring Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish, which screened In Competition at the Berlinale, and screened at twenty international film festivals. Neil was awarded Best Adapted Screenplay at the AFI Awards and an AWGIE for Best Screenplay. Neil’s second feature film HOLDING THE MAN premiered at Sydney Film Festival in 2015.
Neil has won 2 AFI Awards, 12 Helpmann Awards, and many Sydney Theatre, Victorian Green Room and Sydney Theatre Critics Circle Awards. He has Honorary Doctorates from Sydney and NSW Universities, and in 2007 was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia.