Throughout a remarkable career as a practitioner, Gemma has championed new works for many of the UK’s leading commissioning theatres including London’s Royal Court, Bush Theatre, Hampstead Theatre and the National Theatre, where she was a staff director.
Appointed Artistic Director of Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse Theatres in 2003, Gemma co-led the transformation of the theatres to be among the most exciting commissioning houses in the UK and a central part of the City’s 2008 European City of Culture celebrations. In a dazzling programme for the European City of Culture, she enticed back a stellar cast of Everyman and Playhouse alumni including the late Pete Postlethwaite as King Lear. In 2010, Kim Cattrall was cast as Cleopatra with Jeffery Kissoon as Anthony under the direction of Dame Janet Suzman.
Gemma and her team also orchestrated a memorable farewell to the original Everyman Theatre and delivered a £28 million campaign to rebuild it. In 2014, the Everyman Theatre was re-opened to critical acclaim including winning the prestigious Stirling Prize.
A graduate of Trinity College Dublin where she read Drama and Classics, she started her career in London as an assistant director to a range of leading figures in theatre including Harold Pinter, Sir Richard Eyre, Sir Trevor Nunn and Howard Davies.
Following three years as a staff director at the National Theatre, Gemma became part-time associate director at the Hampstead Theatre and a freelance director directing a range of productions including Yard Gal (Royal Court and MCC, New York), Hamlet (Bristol Old Vic), Guiding Star at the National Theatre, Luminosity (Royal Shakespeare Company), Breath, Boom (Royal Court) and Caravan at the Bush Theatre before she joined Everyman and Playhouse where she was Artistic Director from 2003-2020.
In 2014, Gemma was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of Liverpool John Moores University for her outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Liverpool and awarded a Companionship at LIPA in 2015. She was voted Artistic Leader of the Year 2017 by Hope University, Liverpool and won Best Director at the UK Theatre Awards for artistic directorship of the Everyman Company 2017.