Neil Armfield is a leading Australian director of theatre, opera and film. He was co-founder of Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre and was its Artistic Director for 17 years. During this time he directed over 50 productions, with a particular focus on new and Indigenous writing, the plays of Shakespeare, Jonson, Chekhov, Gogol, Patrick White and David Hare.
In 2017 (to 2021) Neil was appointed joint Artistic Director of Adelaide Festival with Rachel Healy.
Notable theatre productions include Cloudstreet (toured to London twice, Dublin, Zurich, New York), Hamlet (toured Australia starring Richard Roxburgh), The Diary of a Madman (toured to Moscow, St Petersburg, New York starring Geoffrey Rush), Exit the King (Sydney and Broadway, winning Geoffrey Rush a Tony Award), The Book of Everything (toured to New York), The Judas Kiss (toured Australia starring Billie Brown in 1999, the West End in 2012 starring Rupert Everett transferring to Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York and returning in 2016 to the Royal Alexandria Theatre in Toronto with Rupert Everett reprising his role), The Secret River (2013) adapted for the stage by Andrew Bovell from Kate Grenville’s novel (Sydney Theatre Company in association with The Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals, Sydney Festival, The Centenary of Canberra, Perth International Arts Festival, return season 2016 Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Adelaide Festival 2017 at The Anstey Quarry and Edinburgh Festival and National Theatre London in 2019), King Lear starring Geoffrey Rush, for Sydney Theatre Company in 2015 and the world premiere of David Hare’s I’m Not Running for The Royal National Theatre of London (2018).
Neil has directed for English National Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Zurich Opera, Bregenz Festival, Opera Australia, Canadian Opera Company, Welsh National Opera and Houston Grand Opera. Premiere productions include Frankie and The Eighth Wonder by Alan John; Love Burns by Graeme Koehne, Bliss by Brett Dean (Opera Australia and Edinburgh Festival) and Hamlet by Brett Dean(Glyndebourne Festival, 2017 and Adelaide Festival, 2018). Opera highlights include The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, Ariadne Auf Naxos by Strauss, Jenufa, Katya Kabanova, The Makropulos Secret and The Cunning Little Vixen by Janacek, The Turn of the Screw, Billy Budd, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Peter Grimes by Britten and Wagner’s Ring Cycle
Neil directed the television miniseries Edens Lost for ABC TV in 1988 which won 4 AFI awards including Best Director and Best Mini Series and 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 Neil directed and co-wrote the feature film Candy, starring Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish, which screened In Competition at Berlinale. He won 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 received a multitude of awards including AFI Awards, Helpmann Awards, Sydney Theatre Awards, Victorian Green Room award and Sydney Theatre Critics Circle Awards. He has Honorary Doctorates from Sydney and NSW Universities and in 2007 was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.