Gemma is a theatre director whose passion is new writing.
Gemma spearheads dynamic, contemporary, ensemble theatre. Her aim is to create epic theatrical experiences that provoke, empower and entertain diverse audiences. She seeks to collaborate with underrepresented artists, in particular women and artists from working-class backgrounds. Her practice is inspired by Mike Alfreds and Sanford Meisner.
Currently, Gemma is supporting the development of Passing by Indigo Griffiths, winner of the Theatre Royal Haymarket Master Class Trust’s Pitch Your Play competition 2018. Passing is a new play exploring the cultural phenomena of racial passing - the use of skin colour as a form of social currency. The project has received support from the Arts Council England, the Nuffield Southampton Theatres, The Bunker Theatre, Women@Rada and the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust. Gemma and Indigo have been in active collaboration on Passing since June 2017. Gemma directed a staged reading of Passing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in November 2018.
Gemma is part of the National Theatre's Staff Directors Database. In 2017 and 2018 she supported Katie Henry and Jill Green Casting with the audition process for the National Theatre’s UK tour of War Horse. In the summer of 2017 she was invited to shadow War Horse rehearsals in London and Canterbury. Gemma studied at the University of East Anglia and trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. She is the recipient of bursaries from the Mayflower Theatre, Yorkshire Ladies Council of Education, Barker-Mill Foundation and the JMK Trust.
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.”★ ★ ★ ★, Four stars, Irish Times
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
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
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