Adrian Noble was born in Chichester. After leaving Chichester High School, he went up to the University of Bristol, where he read English. He began his professional career as a director at the Drama Studio London. In 1976 he moved on to the Bristol Old Vic and worked at the same time in television. From 1980 till 1981 he worked at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, producing the Duchess of Malfi, which won him the London Drama Critics’ Award and the Circle Theatre Award (also for his production of Doktor Faust); and Best Director for A Doll’s House in 1980.
During his career, he received over 20 Olivier Award nominations. In 1980 he became assistant director at the RSC where his first production was Ostrowski’s Two Sisters. In 1988 he was promoted to director, but in 1989 he took a break and left the company. He then worked for the Peter Hall Company, directing the Fairy Queen. He also worked at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Kent Opera and directed a production of Giovanni in a Paris circus tent.
After this time of searching for his independence, Noble returned to the RSC in March 1991, this time as artistic director. In 1993, he won the Globe Award for Best Director for The Winter’s Tale. His production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1994) was popular enough to be revived two years later, and Noble also turned it into a film adaptation in 1996. He resigned from the RSC in 2002, stating that “it is now time for me to seek new artistic challenges”.
He directed several successful London West End musicals including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Secret Garden, and adapted Henrik Ibsen’s play, Brand, for the London theatre in 2003. In 2007, he took Jean-Paul Sartre’s Kean to Malvern, Bath and Brighton, before it transferred to the West End in the spring of that year. In 2008 he directed Hamlet for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and in 2010 Alcina for the Vienna State Opera.