A Quick Chat With Keira Daley

Keira Daley is a popular performer and writer from Sydney’s independent scene. She’s performed in [title of show] and A New Brain, and her cabaret show LadyNerd has toured Australia – and picked up a few awards! Now, Keira is bringing her Slapdash Song Night, a kind of variety show of your favourite performers that she hosts once a month, to the Sydney Fringe Festival. Find out what makes Keira tick below – and then check out Slapdash Song Night at the Fringe!

How do you describe what you do to your older relatives who don’t “get it”?
TV equivalents help – for example, I described [title of show] as “kinda like Seinfeld with songs”.

Slapdash Song Night.
Slapdash Song Night.

How do you describe it otherwise?
Combining music, comedy, and nerdery.

What was your first theatre project – and how old were you?
At age 7 or so, I was narrator in the one-and-only play I can remember my primary school ever
doing. It was about a baby kangaroo. I can still hear myself saying: “Joey was FRIGHTENED. He
could HARDLY BREATHE…”

What’s the most valuable performance advice you’ve ever received?
Make friends with the techies.

Best (and/or worst) onstage mishap?
In The Great American Trailer Park Musical, I was singing this huge song and as I jumped up onto a riser, my monkey slippers (don’t ask) caught under the step and I tripped. I fell so hard onto my knees and was in so much pain I just sat on the floor for the rest of my song and the scene that followed. I didn’t miss a word or a note, though – like a headless chook… with damaged knees.

What the heck is Slapdash Song Night?
It’s a musical variety show and podcast that I host (and edit… eventually). Guests come in, sing
songs and chat with me. It’s fun and creative and ridiculous and rowdy and lo-fi and messy and
glorious. As well as putting the show together, every month I am challenged by the audience to
cover one obscure song and challenged by my friend Pete Lead to write an original. Putting on an entirely new show every month makes me insane and I love it. And now, we’re going weekly for Sydney Fringe…

What kind of performers will drop in over the course of the Fringe?
We’ll have singer-songwriters, comedy duos, music theatre performers, banjo/ukulele/kazoo
players… all of the things. You should come.

Weirdest Slapdash performance ever?
They’re ALL loveably oddball.

Favourite Slapdash performance ever?
Each Slapdash Song Night! has a theme and my favourite so far has to be episode #5 “songs for the uncool” – a theme close to my heart. I asked all my guests when they realised they were
uncool, and every story was solid gold. We opened with “Underground” by Ben Folds Five and closed with “Hip To Be Square”. And I covered a “song” (to use a term very loosely) called “Powder My Back” by the original gimmicky lady herself, Gypsy Rose Lee, of which I am unwholesomely proud.

Who is your entertainer hero?
Elaine Stritch – one sassy broad from lights up to curtain call.

What’s your go-to shower song?
“As We Stumble Along” from The Drowsy Chaperone. I’m apparently not one for water conservation.

What’s the best thing about independent performance in Australia?
There’s so much love poured into indie theatre. It’s all about love and risk and innovation and
passion and fire and necessity. The people who put themselves out there doing the indie stuff
have to do it because it’s coursing through their veins and they can’t wait around for permission to act. Whether you like the work itself or not, at least the indie producers really care on a visceral level – if they didn’t, the show just wouldn’t happen. Also, I find a lot of it is much more fun and interesting to watch than what the mainstream has on offer. Often it’s the same talent working on both, except in the indie world they get to handcraft and/or create the work as well as perform it.

What’s the worst thing about it?
Sydney has a sore lack of suitable venues for independent artists (and arguably, at times, for
productions of any scale) and their audiences. ‘Suitable’ means a space that’s the right size,
where audiences want to go, where the facilities are adequate and the atmosphere is supportive,
inclusive and equitable. As an independent producer, sometimes you might be given the
impression that playing at a certain venue is a privilege, but the fact is you’re running a business
just as much as any venue is. Venues and artists need each other equally and the relationship
(and the contract) between them should reflect that. Sadly, however, it often doesn’t – but artists
go ahead anyway (see the passion-imbued answer to Q12 as to why). The problem there is, your artistic practice needs to be viable and sustainable or you’ll burn out and everyone loses.

What’s your life motto?
A little of the Slapdash Song Night! motto goes a long way: “Singy-sing, talky-talk, drinky-drink!”

Which Fringe show other than your own do you think people should see?
Lady Sings It Better are festival experts. You’ll be in good ‘n’ funny hands with them.

Favourite post-show snack?
Dinner. At The Theatre Division’s production of Ruthless, I laughed hard at the line: “Show people are DOOMED to a lifestyle of… heavy meals late at night!”

Song everyone should listen to right now?
“Anything Else” by Sarah Jarosz – ah, those strings!

TV show everyone should be watching?
Orphan Black – as well as being completely thrilling, it’s an acting and writing masterclass.

Movie everyone should see?
The Lego Movie – everything is awesome. SPACESHIP!

Where can we get tickets to your next show?
Tickets are $5, available at the door only, upstairs at The Record Crate: 34 Glebe Pt Rd, Glebe.

Slapdash Song Night! is on at 7.30pm every Sunday in September for Sydney Fringe 2014, then
returns to its regular first-Sunday-of-the-month spot on October 5.

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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