Born in Sydney, Armfield was the youngest of three boys. The son of a factory worker at the nearby Arnott's Biscuits factory, he was brought up in the suburb of Concord adjacent to Exile Bay. He was educated at the (then) selective publicly funded Homebush Boys High School and 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.
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 has subsequently directed under the new Artistic Director Ralph Myers.
Company B work
For Company B, he has directed
Companies worked with
Awards and honours
- 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) 
- 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 Eden’s Lost)
- several Helpmann Awards
- Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Performing Arts in Australia
- Mitter, Shomit; Maria Shevtsova (2005). Fifty Key Theatre Directors. Routledge. p. 236. ISBN 0-415-18731-1.
- Atkinson, Ann; Linsay Knight (1996). The dictionary of performing arts in Australia. Margaret McPhee. Allen & Unwin. p. 11. ISBN 1-86373-898-3.
- It's an Honour website
- Neil Armfield awarded Honorary doctorate
- Neil Armfield at the Internet Movie Database
- Talking Heads - Armfield interview by Peter Thompson for ABC1 (July 2010)