Gemma is a theatre director who spearheads award winning new writing. She seeks to collaborate with underrepresented artists, in particular women and artists from working-class backgrounds. She is committed to the creation of ensemble theatre that moves and empowers diverse audiences.
Most recently Gemma returned to direct the revival production of My Dad’s Blind by Anna Shiel’s Mcnamee, Irish Tour 2019 (Winner of Best Production, Dublin Fringe Festival 2018).
In 2017 Gemma founded Tanzanite Theatre. Inspired by real life phenomenon and little known truths, Tanzanite Theatre are dedicated to the creation of transformative new writing. Gemma directed Tanzanite Theatre’s inaugural production, the European premiere of Gracie (Finborough Theatre, Off West End Nomination for Best Actress.)
Other directing credits include My Dad’s Blind (Winner of Best Production, Dublin Fringe Festival 2018; Irish Tour 2019); Passing (Winner of the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s Masterclass Trust’s Pitch Your Play Award 2018, staged readings at the Theatre Royal Haymarket/Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts/The Bunker Theatre/Pleasance Theatre); The Narcissist (Hen & Chickens Theatre) and Grimm: An Untold Tale (Underbelly, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival).
Assistant directing credits includes Mehmet Ergen on Little Miss Sunshine the Musical (Arcola Theatre); Mehmet Ergen on Stop & Search (Arcola Theatre); Sam Hodges on the world premiere and revival productions of The Shadow Factory (Nuffield Southampton Theatres); Daniel Goldman on Thebes Land (Arcola Theatre) and David Mercatali on Tonight with Donnny Stixx (The Bunker Theatre).
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 she shadowed War Horse rehearsals in London and Canterbury.
Alongside directing Gemma works as a drama facilitator and a dramaturg. Currently she is a reader for the Bruntwood Prize 2019. Gemma has led 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 and actress Joan Iyiola in facilitating industry led workshops. Gemma co-founded PLAYSTART, the Mono Box’s annual showcase of new writing.
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.
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
“Authentic…an outstanding piece of work…” ★★★★, Reviews Hub
“Superbly directed by Gemma Aked-Priestley” ★★★★★, Close Up Culture
“Nuanced and painstaking direction from Gemma Aked-Priestley…Gracie is spellbinding and moving storytelling of the very first order.”★★★★★, Act Drop
“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”★★★★★, London Pub Theatres
Grimm: An Untold Tale –
“Gemma Aked Priestley brings the text to life with an absolute realness, full of imaginative riches.” Exeunt Magazine
“Delightfully playful” ★★★★★, 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”. ★★★★, Broadway Baby