Gemma is a freelance theatre director who specialises in new writing. Her passion is dynamic, contemporary theatre with ensemble at heart. She seeks to collaborate with underrepresented artists, in particular women and artists from working-class backgrounds. Her aim is to be at the forefront of innovative theatrical experiences that provoke, empower and entertain.
Currently Gemma is developing Passing in collaboration with Indigo Griffiths, a new play exploring the cultural phenomena of racial passing - the use of skin colour as a form of social currency. Passing won the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust’s Pitch Your Play competition 2018. In November Gemma directed a staged reading of Passing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Gemma’s directing credits include Passing (Staged Reading, Theatre Royal Haymarket/Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts/The Bunker Theatre/Pleasance Theatre), My Dad’s Blind (Winner of Best Production, Dublin Fringe Festival 2018); the European premiere of Gracie (Finborough Theatre); Grimm: An Untold Tale (Underbelly, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and Tender Napalm (Karamel Club Theatre, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts).
Assistant directing credits includes Mehmet Ergen on Stop & Search (Arcola Theatre); Sam Hodges on the world premiere and revival of Howard Brenton’s The Shadow Factory (Nuffield Southampton Theatres); Daniel Goldman on Thebes Land (Arcola Theatre); David Mercatali on Tonight With Donny Stixx (The Bunker Theatre) and Matt Cowart on Lockhart: A New Southern Gothic Musical (Bernie Grant Arts Centre).
Gemma also works as a drama facilitator. She has lead workshops with emerging artists at the Mono Box, the Oxford School of Speech and Drama, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, Peer Productions, the Nuffield Southampton Theatres and the Globe Young Players.
From 2016-2018 Gemma was the Assistant Director for the Mono Box where she regularly supported movement director Polly Bennett (People, Places and Things) and actress Joan Iyiola (The Duchess of Malfi, RSC) with industry lead workshops. Gemma co-founded PLAYSTART, the Mono Box’s annual showcase of new writing. In her spare time Gemma continues to support the Mono Box.
In 2017 and 2018 Gemma supported Jill Green Casting with auditions for the National Theatre’s UK tour of War Horse. In the summer of 2017 Gemma shadowed War Horse rehearsals in London and Canterbury. Gemma is listed on the National Theatre’s Staff Director’s Database.
The Press on Gemma Aked-Priestley:
My Dad’s Blind -
“Gemma Aked-Priestley’s production for Pan Pan has a flair for the visual [...] an astringent comic sensibility and a lively theatrical imagination, brought to life by the energetic performers. […] a singular vision of a potentially difficult subject.” ★ ★ ★ ★, Irish Times
"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
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