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Neil Armfield

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Neil Armfield
Born (1955-04-22) 22 April 1955 (age 69)
EducationHomebush Boys High School
Alma materUniversity of Sydney
OccupationCreative director

Neil Geoffrey Armfield AO (born 22 April 1955) is an Australian director of theatre, film and opera.[1]


Born in Sydney, Armfield is the third and youngest son of Len, a factory worker at the nearby Arnott's Biscuits factory and Nita Armfield. He was brought up in the suburb of Concord, adjacent to Exile Bay. He was educated at the Homebush Boys High School where, in 1972, he was the Vice-Captain.[2] In that year, Armfield directed the school's production of Milne's "Toad of Toad Hall" which garnered him the award of "Best Director" at the NSW High Schools Drama Festival.[3] When asked in 2019: “Who or what was your biggest influence?” Armfield said; “Lindsay Daines at Homebush State High School, who encouraged my theatrical aspirations.”[4][5] He then went on to study at the University of Sydney, graduating in 1977, and became Co-Artistic Director of the Nimrod Theatre Company in 1979. He joined South Australia's Lighthouse Theatre before returning to Sydney in 1985, where he was involved in the purchase of Belvoir St Theatre and the formation of Company B, becoming its first Artistic Director in 1994.[6][7]

In April 2008 he was selected as a participant in the Towards a creative Australia strand of the Australia 2020 Summit. Armfield announced in 2009 that the 2010 season would be his last as Belvoir Artistic Director, but he subsequently directed under his successor as Artistic Director Ralph Myers.[8]

Armfield was appointed joint artistic director of the Adelaide Festival with Rachel Healy in 2017, with their original two-year term extended twice to 2023. This made them the longest serving artistic directors in the Festival's history.[9]

Company B work[edit]

For Company B, he has directed

Opera Australia work[edit]

For Opera Australia he has directed works such as Jenůfa, The Eighth Wonder, Tristan und Isolde and Billy Budd. In 2013, he directed Opera Australia's first full-length presentation of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, in Melbourne.

Companies worked with[edit]


Awards and honours[edit]


  • Officer of the Order of Australia for "... service to the arts, nationally and internationally, as a director of theatre, opera and film, and as a promoter of innovative Australian productions including Australian Indigenous drama." (January 2007)[10]
  • Honorary Doctor of Literature at the University of Sydney (April 2006)
  • Sydney Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best Director and Best Production
  • 1989, Major Award for Significant Contribution to Sydney Theatre
  • Several Green Room Awards
  • AFI Award for Best Director (Mini-series Edens Lost)
  • Several Helpmann Awards
  • Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Performing Arts in Australia



  1. ^ Jana Wendt, "The Diary of a Maestro: Meeting Neil Armfield", The Monthly (Australia), September 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2013
  2. ^ Homebush Boys High School Magazine: 4. 1972. {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)[title missing]
  3. ^ "School Magazine". Homebush Boys High School.[failed verification]
  4. ^ The Stage – UK Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  5. ^ Limelight “Opera invades your dreams,” Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  6. ^ Mitter, Shomit; Shevtsova, Maria (2005). Fifty Key Theatre Directors. Routledge. p. 236. ISBN 0-415-18731-1.
  7. ^ Atkinson, Ann; Knight, Linsay; McPhee. Margaret (1996). The Dictionary of Performing Arts in Australia Volume 2: Opera, Music, Dance. Australia: Allen & Unwin. p. 11. ISBN 1-86373-898-3.
  8. ^ Steve Dow, "Au revoir, Belvoir", 6 December 2009. Armfield's family background on stevedow.com.au
  9. ^ "Extended Adelaide Festival Tenure for Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy".
  10. ^ "Officer of the Order of Australia Award" on itsanhonour.gov.au Retrieved 18 September 2013

External links[edit]