Lars Norén was born in 1944 in Stockholm to a middle-class family.

He spent a few years growing up in Genarp in the countryside in Skåne, where his father worked as a cellar master in a hotel.

An environment that would later appear in his writing and dramas, including in the plays The night is the mother of the day and Chaos is a neighbor of God from the early 1980s, which was also televised and became Lars Norén's big breakthrough as a playwright.  

Already as a 19-year-old, Norén made his debut as a poet with the collection of poems Syréner, snö.

The early poems are written in an expressive, flowing stream of consciousness.

Lars Norén was treated in his teens for a youth psychosis, and the experiences from mental health care are among the motives in the great dramas that in the 1990s made Lars Norén widely covered in the media, mainly Personkrets 3: 1 which he set up at Elverket Dramaten 1998 under his own direction. 

In the six-and-a-half-hour-long play, a chorus of society's outcast outsiders speaks: addicts, the homeless and the mentally ill.

The play was the first in a planned trilogy under the name Morire di Classe and was followed by The Shadow Boys in 1999, about seven men imprisoned for serious crimes.  

Lars Norén repeatedly collaborated with the actor Reine Brynolfsson, among other things in the play 7: 3 which was staged at the Riksteatern in 1999. Amateur actors were involved who on stage expressed Nazi views, which created a great debate about freedom of expression and the demarcation between reality and theater. 

In the play 7: 3, the three long-sentenced prisoners have a long conversation about growing up, conscience, morality and justice with a playwright, Norén's alter ego.

The critics questioned whether sufficient distance from the lines was marked within the framework of the theater performance 7: 3, through the character who portrayed the playwright, and who was played by Reine Brynolfsson.  

One of the participants, Tony Olsson, deviated during a leave that he was granted to participate in the rehearsals, to instead rob Östgötabanken in Kisa.

During the escape, the bank robbers shot dead two policemen (the so-called Malexander murders).

The theater project is described in detail in the film Rehearsals 2003 and in the book Smärtpunkten by Elisabeth Åsbrink 2009. Lars Norén later admitted that the project went wrong.  

Between 1999-2007, Lars Norén in collaboration with Ulrika Josephsson was artistic director of RiksDrama at the Riksteatern, and the duo were also leaders together for Folkteatern in Gothenburg 2009-2012.

Norén was also an internationally sought-after director with assignments at, among others, Comédie Française in Paris and the National Theater in Oslo. 

The autobiographical books A Playwright's Diary (2015-2019) were much talked about for controversial mentions, including by colleagues in the theater world.

The latest part was withdrawn by the publisher in 2020, when an actress was incorrectly portrayed as having dementia.