Dressed in deep vibrant purple Judith Daley is evidently not your run of the mill 72-year-old. Her long-sleeved furry top begging to be touched is just one of the signs flagging that this storyteller has a great sense of fun and a ready laugh.
Having performed four times at the Moth story slams at the Giant Dwarf Theatre, and a first place winner of the December event themed Risk, she is now setting her sights on the grand finale, the Sydney Moth GrandSLAM at the Metro Theatre on June 22.
Befriending comedian Kathryn Bendle in a drama class, held by the City of Sydney, Kathryn introduced Judith to a night of laughs at The Giant Dwarf in Redfern, Sydney last year.
The retired public servant, who lost her life partner ten years ago, found solace in sharing her experiences in the Moth, a monthly all-ages event that invites storytellers to share their most vulnerable and challenging moments in five minutes flat. And keep their audiences spellbound.
Refusing to adhere to a staid 72-year-old image, Judith determined to take risks, saying her reasons for being so open were based on her employment history.
Working for the Department of Education NSW, she spoke with children who had been sexually abused. This combined with her deep-seated urge to speak on behalf of vulnerable victims, made Judith willing to speak out.
“I have had plenty of experience talking about sex,” said, placing emphasis on the word sex. “I had to be comfortable talking about it. In my work I had to hear all about it, whatever it was. I couldn’t be embarrassed about it.”
In December 2016, I set off to the Giant Dwarf Theatre unsure of what I was to witness. When Judith took the stage, it was her third time. The theme was “Risk”, and her seamless story-telling began with an unforgettable line.
“We devoured each other,” she says proudly, retelling an unforgettable night with a man in her youth. This certainly stirred the crowd.
But, she told the spellbound audience, this man had something to confess: “He turned to me and said ‘I have six months to live’.”
She continued, telling the now very silent audience how she took a drag from her cigarette and said: “Well then, we’d better have as much fun as we can in the time we have left.”
Except it didn’t last six months.
“It took that bugger 33 years to die!”
Judith informed the cheering audience that was the risk she took all those years ago with the man who became her husband.
This is but a taste of the sort of yarns people of all ages share on the Moth stage as they reveal intimate and meaningful moments in their lives.
Producer Ali Sebastian Wolf said the the platform was “a tool for empathy, a great sharing of experiences and understanding”.
“Opening yourself up to be vulnerable allows the audience to connect to the storyteller. That level of bravery makes it a good story,” she said. “In an age where you get saturated in high blockbuster movies it’s good to have that direct powerful way to connect as humans.”
The creative artist, who won an award for written word in 2013, was invited to chair a panel with the creators of The Moth, who also invited her to do an internship in Brooklyn, New York where she learned the intricate behind-the-scenes details about The Moth.
The Oxford Art Factory, in Darlinghurst, a modern inspired venue of Andy Warhol’s Factory in New York during the ’60s was the first venue to host the event in 2015. Coincidentally the theme was ‘Firsts’.
Being an audience member has its own adventure. People are invited to share their own secrets on a issue related to the theme, anonymously, before the show begins, secrets that are then read out between storyteller segments by the host Andy Leonard.
Sydney Moth GrandSLAM is at the Metro Theatre on June 22.