Gemma is a freelance writer and director who spearheads award-winning new writing. Predominantly, Gemma directs for stage and writes for screen.
As a theatre director, Gemma works with new writing, comedies and musicals, supporting writers dramaturgically from page to stage. Her theatre work can be identified as emotionally daring, visually dynamic and “live”. As a woman from a working-class background the need to provide platforms for under-represented voices is embedded in the fabric of her work.
Theatre Directing credits include:
Galapagos (Central School of Speech and Drama) 39 and Counting (Oxford School of Drama), Moonfleece (Oxford School of Drama) Flinch (Liam Mclaughlin Productions, UK Tour 2021); The Narcissist (Flux Theatre, Arcola Outside); Ripe (Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Make It So Festival); My Dad’s Blind (Irish Tour, Abbey Theatre, Dublin Fringe Festival, Winner of Best Production and Best Design 2018); 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); Gracie (Finborough Theatre, Off West End Awards Nomination for Best Actress) and Grimm: An Untold Tale (Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe Festival).
Assistant directing credits include:
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); David Mercatali on Tonight with Donnny Stixx (Bunker Theatre); Matt Cowart on Lockhart: A Southern Gothic Musical (Bernie Grant Arts Centre).
As a writer, Gemma’s work explores a hybrid genre she calls feminist, gothic-giggle, with bite. Thematically, Gemma merges the mundane, the magical and the macabre. She’s fascinated by the delicious intersection between light and dark, placing gallows-humour, satire, and observational humour at the centre of her work. Screen projects include:
The Coven, a laugh out loud mockumentary following Blaze, a failing-at-life receptionist, as she spearheads a coven of outcast, millennial witches muddling from one disaster to the next.
Ghosted, a macabre, comedy-drama that trails Nikita and Tiny, two care workers turned vigilantes, who join forces to hunt down a serial “ghoster” in a thrilling game of cat and mouse
Talking To The Dead, a gothic comedy-drama, fronted by real-life sisters, Kate and Maggie Fox, as they galvanise the movement that took 19th century New York and London by storm – Spiritualism.
Alongside writing and directing Gemma works as a dramaturg, script reader and teacher. She has worked at the Central School of Speech and Drama, St Mary’s University, ArtsEd, Oxford School of Drama, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, The Mono Box, Peer Productions, Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Globe Young Players, Wiltshire Creative and the Bruntwood Prize.
‘A promising debut that gets under the skin of troubled relationships… a kind of angsty Private Lives for Generation Z’ – Michael Billington, The Guardian
★★★★ Four stars, The Reviews Hub
★★★★ Four stars, London Theatre 1
★★★★ Four stars, The Upcoming
The Narcissist –
‘If you’re up for an hour of laughter, willing to go home sockless or just want Adolphy’s number, get yourself down to Arcola Outside.’ ★★★★ Four Stars, Everything Theatre
‘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
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
‘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
‘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
‘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
Grimm: An Untold Tale –
‘Gemma brings the text to life with an absolute realness, full of imaginative riches.’ Exeunt Magazine
‘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
‘Delightfully playful.’ ★★★★★ Five stars, Three Weeks