“Having a blind dad is hard. He’s just blind, like. All the time. He’s never not blind, you know what I mean?”
Inspired by raw audio recordings, this is a true story about Anna's blind Dad. Examining misplaced pity in all its guises, this is an irreverent look at what happens when a parent loses his sight while his daughter loses her mind. A story about sight-loss, family dysfunction and all the embarrassing, awkward, ridiculous ways they try to get by in a sighted world with a blind Dad and a guide dog that’s just had a stroke.
Written by Anna Shiels McNamee, directed by Gemma Aked-Priestley and co-produced with Pan Pan Theatre. Funded by The Arts Council Ireland and developed at FRINGE LAB with the support of Dublin Fringe Festival. My Dad’s Blind premiered at the Dublin Fringe Festival 2018 where it won the award for Best Production. It has been performed at the Abbey Theatre as part of the inaugural Young Curators Festival 2019 and is being toured across Ireland as part of a 2019 national tour.
The Press on My Dad’s Blind
'At its core lies an astringent comic sensibility and a lively theatrical imagination, brought to life by the energetic performers.' ★★★★ Four stars, The Irish Times
'Feels more authentic than anything this reviewer has seen at the Fringe in years.' ★★★★ Four and a half stars, The Reviews Hub
'Director Gemma Aked-Priestley displays an arresting confidence.' The Irish Independent
Photos courtesy of Ste Murray.
“You’re gonna leave Chicago, you’re gonna go to New York and you’re gonna pass as a white woman. You’re gonna become a white woman. And this is the best thing for you.”
Chicago. 1941. Joey, John and Eliza are siblings, but their lives are about to take different paths. Joey is embracing the New Negro Movement, John is breaking barriers at college and Eliza is preparing to pass as white. In a world where everything is determined by race, what can you gain by concealing who you are, and more importantly what can you lose? Passing is a new play that exposes the controversial practice of “racial passing” – the use of skin colour as a form of social currency.
Written by Indigo Griffiths and directed by Gemma Aked-Priestley, Passing received funding from the Art Council England for Research and Development in 2017. Passing won the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust’s Pitch Your Play Award 2018. Gemma and Indigo are currently working on an Autumn 2020 UK premiere.
Photos courtesy of Theatre Royal Haymarket’s Masterclass Trust, Jeanie Jean Photography and Meridian Griffiths.
"God doesn’t talk to girls. But He listens. I pray for God to tell Mr. Shelby to find me a husband who’s sweet and kind and not too old."
Gracie was born into a polygamous religious community and brought across the US border to Canada at the age of eight, when her mother became the eighteenth wife of an elder there. A lively and irrepressible child, her world is full of faith and family, but by the time she is fifteen, and at marriageable age, she feels increasing pressure to conform…but will she ever dare to take the leap and step into the outside world?
Written by Joan MacLeod and produced by Tanzanite Theatre. Gemma Aked-Priestley directed the European premiere of Gracie at the Finborough Theatre in spring 2017. Starring Carla Langley (The Ferryman, Royal Court/West End/Broadway) who was nominated for Best Female Performance Award (Off West End Awards).
The Press on Gracie
‘Superbly directed by Gemma Aked-Priestley’ ★★★★★ Five stars, Close Up Culture
‘Nuanced and painstaking direction from Gemma Aked-Priestley...Gracie is spellbinding and moving storytelling of the very first order.’★★★★★ Five stars, Act Drop
‘Compelling to watch’ ★★★★★ Five stars, Upper Circle
‘Director Gemma Aked-Priestley is very wise to give the text plenty of space to breathe...the synergy of vision between all the elements that were working together, on and off the stage, produce this very fine production’★★★★★ Five stars, London Pub Theatres
‘Gemma Aked-Priestley directs the piece fluently, using every inch of Bex Kemp’s tiny set.’ The Church Times
Photos courtesy of Sophie Stevens @sophiestevens_photo
“Welcome friends, welcome Romans, welcome you bloody countrymen. Welcome to the beginning of the rest of your life…”
The Narcissist merges a ted talk, stand-up and drama to delve deep into the mind of someone with a poisonous addiction to feeling loved. A brutally fun, immersive and unnerving experience.
Written by Will Adolphy, directed by Gemma Aked-Priestley and produced by Flux Theatre. The Narcissist previewed at the Hen and Chickens Theatre in 2018 subsequent to a Research and Development project facilitated by Gemma Aked-Priestley.
The Press on The Narcissist
‘Director Gemma Aked-Priestley must be mentioned, the slick, simple direction of The Narcissist makes it stand out from small venue productions and has the feel of something bigger.’ ★★★★ Four Stars, A Younger Theatre
‘Will and Director Gemma Aked-Priestley should definitely work together again…a piece that is almost two conjoined shows and which sit together unsettlingly well.’ ★★★★ Four Stars, LondonTheatre1
Photos courtesy of Flux Theatre.
“One day, the women of this world would grow back their hands, and when they did, it would only be the beginning for us.”
Of the 214 Grimm fairy tales, over half were sourced by women. This is their story.
In the midst of the Napoleonic wars, the Grimms wanted to ensure the survival of German folklore. They enlisted the best story-tellers they knew: Dortchen Wild the “Wild” girl, Marie Hassenpflug locked in her tower and Dorothea Viehmann with the razor-sharp tongue. Weaving tales of silver slippers, devils and wolves, Fiercely Spun's visually playful storytelling and original live music revives these forgotten female voices and the darkly delightful stories they told.
Written by Jodie Garnish, directed by Gemma Aked-Priestley and produced by Fiercely Spun Theatre. Grimm: An Untold Tale premiered at Underbelly, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016.
The Press on Grimm: An Untold Tale
‘Gemma Aked Priestley brings the text to life with an absolute realness, full of imaginative riches.’ Exeunt Magazine
‘Delightfully playful.’ ★★★★★ Five stars, Three Weeks
‘The stage takes on a magical atmosphere… Such an original show deserves more credit, an imaginative step forward in helping the women of this world grow back their hands.’ ★★★★ Four stars, Broadway Baby
‘A rare & powerful piece of storytelling.’ ★★★★ Four stars, Fringe Biscuit
Photos courtesy of Charlotte Rhodes.
“I could squeeze a bullet between those lips. Point first. Press it between those rosebud lips. Prise it between your pearly whites. Gently. I wouldn't break a single tooth.”
Tender Napalm is a high-impact, high-concept play exploring the landscape of a relationship between a man and a woman. Explosive and poetic, the play re-examines and redefines a savagely romantic language of love.
Written by Philip Ridley, directed by Gemma Aked-Priestley and produced by Denise Koch for Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts' Mosaic Season 2016. Tender Napalm was performed at the Karamel Club Theatre as Gemma Aked-Priestley’s MA Theatre Directing Showcase Production where it was awarded a Distinction.
Photos courtesy of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.