Caught up in your craft …by Casey Carlisle.

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Sometimes when you’re so involved in your work, the reaction from the viewing public is like a slap in the face.

If you have been following my blog, you know I am a cancer survivor, and having gone through the recovery process twice, I know how important it is to support the community and people involved in treating the disease… and keep a sense of humour about the whole thing! One of my proudest endeavours in giving back, was a fundraiser event in the form of a self-produced Theatrical Show, including all of the antics and headaches that happened behind the scenes. (There will be more about the creation of the show in a later blog, but for now I’m going to share with you the amusements from the dressing room the centre stage that had my eyes watering from both despair and laughter.)

Our show was the Grand re-opening of the Perth Town Hall after extensive renovations, and culminated months of preparation in choreography, rehearsals, designing and sewing costumes, creating a lighting design and turning over a few cast members.  Our poke in the eye at American-styled Beauty Pageants had each of us performing comedic spot numbers, hilariously scripted interviews, a swimsuit parade with the most outrageous styles we could think of, and ball gowns that put Lady Ga-Ga to shame. The only serious numbers were our Las Vegas Showgirl inspired group numbers, an Acrobat act, and my rendition of a Broadway ballad.

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The excitement, and butterflies assaulting my stomach when the curtain rose at the Premier, kept me energised for the entire night. I needed it to plough through my 47 costume changes, two of which were executed in 30 seconds side of stage – only because the giant headdresses and butterfly wings couldn’t fit through the door backstage. The challenge for the night, especially while twirling across stage in our massive feathered backpacks – not to fall off the edge or face-plant into the floorboards  – which was exacerbated by the fact the floor pitched forward. The Perth Town Hall, being a Heritage Building, constructed around the initial settlement of the city, had levelled audience seating arrangements, not tiered like a regular theatre. Therefore reconstruction to alleviate this problem was strictly outlawed, and we had to adapt. But what the hey – we were professionals!

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The Perth Town Hall, shot from the lighting and sound booth as I discuss the tech-run with a cast member.

The worst thing to happen on stage, though not a pitch over the edge of the tilted stage, but a singular delayed cue for ‘curtain up,’ leaving Chaise (a seductress cast member doing a cabaret number) stranded on the wrong side of the curtain. I imagined her diving underneath the heavy red velvet fabric (as would completely be in her character) but thankfully we were saved from the sight of her bony arse disappearing underneath the heavy fringe by a frantic stagehand.

Backstage was a flurry of diamantes, feather and wigs, as we each raced to change into the next outfit. Our Diva-in-training, executed a stumble down the back stairs, landing legs-in-the-air, buried waist deep in a large clothes bin. Moments later, having recovered from her dunking, managed to mix her next outfit with another dancer, resulting in her prancing back on stage in a way-too-tight leotard, while a dancer nearly lost her pants…  it only added to the comedy and delighted the crowd.

I had become so focused on the creative process of developing the show and enjoying the experience with my friends and cast mates, that I was completely unprepared for the audiences reaction – my big solo spot, singing ‘And I am Telling You’ from Dreamgirls, had people (and my bestie working the spotlight) shedding a quiet tear. Probably due to the context of the song and my well publicised battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. When the number drew to an end, it felt like the longest awkward pause, before an unexpected roar with patrons rising from their seats in appreciative applause. But what really fuelled the night was the congregation’s continual laughter from the comedic tone we had woven throughout the entire performance.

Our night ended on a high having a dose of celebrity afterwards with the majority of the public and a small press gallery waiting for photos and autographs and the red carpet. And was it all worth it? Hell yes! Not only did we raise $40,000 for a great cause, everyone involved, be it member of the production, or audience member, had a ball and brought us closer together through giggles and glitter.

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Our spacious dressing rooms, chock-full of costumes ready for the Gala performance.

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Tick Tock… no it’s not my biological clock making that noise. …by Casey Carlisle.

Image                STATUS: I’m having an affair and never have enough time.

Starting a new job after a few months off have kept me from churning out the usual amount of pages I’d grown accustomed to for my novel this week. If I didn’t have to buy food or pay the bills, I’d probably still be tapping away at my keyboard, oblivious to the outside world, until emerging at the other end with a completed manuscript. There was a weird niggly feeling in the pit of my stomach and the back of my neck… and then it hit me today… it was guilt. My novel is like an abandoned lover, sulking in the corner neglected. I lavish attention on it every night for about an hour, scribing at least half a page to add to its girth – but it doesn’t seem enough.

I love my job, being a part of a great team, having that feeling of accomplishment, and taking part of something bigger than yourself at the end of each day – and if I could eliminate the need for sleep altogether and write all night, I’d be a happy woman. It got me wondering: how much time do I spend writing, at work, marketing… and have decided that May is going to be a month of monitoring just these things. Call in an experiment in seeing just what I use my time for – it could yield some scary results!

This decision was the best proactive solution I could come up with to alleviate the attention-hungry monster that is my novel. Better than trying to cram more time in somewhere – I wanted to take a serious look at what activities I could cull…without resorting to staying up later. So now I’m smiling again, not only about getting money filling the purse, but managing my time better. Granted my deadline for finishing ‘Smoulder’ has been pushed back considerably, but I’m happier for it.

It’s going to be a difficult exercise because I’m so passionate about writing, I’m frequently at home, shirking chores and social engagements to ‘just finish this chapter.’ There is never enough hours in the day… Guess I’ll have to bear with it until my writing is bringing in enough income to warrant becoming a full time novelist (squee!) So watch this space and see what conclusions my little project bring to light.

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film Review of ‘The Host’ …by Casey Carlisle

Image            I will openly admit I am a Twi-hard, not only did I enjoy Stephenie Meyer’s novels for some much needed escapism, but her personal story into fame inspired courage within me to turn procrastination into action. So like every other superfan, I was excited to see how her novel ‘The Host’ transformed on to the big screen.

            It behoves me to admit that even before halfway through the film I was sighing out loud in boredom. The movie was a weak adaptation of the novel. At least with the Twilight series they managed to keep the darker aspect of the book and all the action sequences (even with it’s PG rating). Given ‘The Host’ was an adult novel I expected more. Gone was much of the conflict, the visceral fighting (which leant more reality to the book), and any of Wanda’s flashbacks (including the one poignant moment defining her character). Many of the characters felt a little stereotypical in comparison to their literary counterparts (even the aliens were more glowing-fluffy-cloud than segmented insect-like parasite). The setting of the canyon caves were much more domesticated and comfortable than I had pictured from the novel and lost a bit of the ‘last pocket of humans surviving alone in the wilderness’ vibe.

On the plus side, Saoirse Ronan did an excellent portrayal of Melanie Stryder, and redeemed the film in my eyes. With such a strong cast, what could have come across as cheesy has a quiet sophistication to it. I enjoyed the sci-fi parts they included (would have loved to see more) and it was filmed beautifully with gorgeous sweeping landscapes. The movie rang true to the premise of alien invasion and kept me engaged, themes of love, loyalty and survival at all costs remained strong and it was great to see how this was perplexing to the aliens point of view.

All in all, the film was a sanitised version of the book; the only thing left was the love story… which in translation lacked the desperation and angst from the novel. It felt like there was too much silence and empty space in the story.

Disappointed. That is the only word I can use to review the film. The evolution of Stephanie Meyer’s writing into an adult novel had been reduced to a flick targeted at tweens to tap into the ‘Twi-hard’ fan base and edited out all of the aspects of the novel I found most appealing. I guess if the movie was a version that would have me raving about it for years to come, it would need to be turned into mini-series to conserve all the elements that enticed me on the pages of the book. I enjoyed the movie for what it was, and maybe, if I hadn’t read the book first would have enjoyed it more. A good companion to the novel, but not a great one.

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I could have been Ginger on my own version of Gilligan’s Island! …. by Casey Carlisle

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ImageBlue skies, calm azure seas, tucked into a life vest on a ship with eight hot guys… was I wrong to wish for a shipwreck?

And I’m not talking about a singles cruise, or a fishing trip with the boys. I had signed on for a couple of months as research assistant tagging turtles along the Far North Queensland coast on weekends, monitoring their migration patterns and population dispersal. Just shy of completing my Marine Biology degree, of which I was completely in awe of, having grown up in the CentralianDesert, so every attempt was given to volunteer for assisting the PhD students in their practical studies. I managed to participate in many, but this was, by far, my favourite.

Not only was there great eye candy, I could lavish in the warm coastal currents, scuba dive, and have said cuties help slather on yet another layer of sunscreen. The hard part – long hours, (about 22 hours on the vessel) and having to baby sit a couple of the lads with motion sickness (albeit brought on by the previous nights drinking game). We would catch and release continuously through the night as well, and what little sleep I did manage, was disturbed by farts, burps, coughs and groans of the men resting soundly: I had many thoughts of dropping them overboard just for some peace and quiet.

We found an alarming number of turtles garnished with plastic rubbish and a lurking Great White (maybe it was following the trail of vomit behind the boat?) There was also evidence of silt killing off a part of the coral and seagrass beds, kicked up from the shipping lane.  However the rest of the journey was filled with pristine waters and its coulourful inhabitants. It certainly raised my awareness in how our garbage is disposed and recycled, and the importance of environmental impact studies on industry.

It was a fantastic experience diving in waters with great visibility and contributing to a cause bigger than yourself. Meeting a group of socially aware and intelligent young men and actually having a constructive conversation without any awkwardness or need for a drink in one hand. I must have snapped at least 10 rolls of film (no digital

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camera back then) of the gorgeous ocean, above and below the waterline… and the hunky shipmates. So what started as a chance to hitch on a trawler and dive on reefs around our fair town for free on the weekends, and enhance my education, turned into an exercise in a global consciousness. I think I’ll trade in Gilligan’s Island for Captain Planet any day!

Save the turtles! Save our Oceans!

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Here’s another excerpt from ‘Smoulder’ by Casey Carlisle

Also, check out another of the ‘Craptastic Covers’ for this novel…

Image            When I finally heard the lunch bell, I raced to the cafeteria. Bernie and Rebekah were quietly involved in a passionate discussion, careful to keep their voices quiet so no-one would hear, head’s ducked low and close together. None of Teddy’s group were lounging in their regular secluded spot away from everyone else. Instantly, I ached to see him, watch a smile broaden across his face. Find some comfort in his cautious eyes. This would not do!

None of the other group had come to the lunch table yet, and to distract myself, I decided to put a little notion to the test.

I concentrated on a blonde girl two tables over, recognising her from my Biology class. I think her name was Jane. Focusing my will power to listen in, hear her thoughts…

Nothing!

Trying a different tack, I quietened my mind, opening it up to whatever was floating about in the ether. Waiting for something to pop in, reveal someone’s inner thoughts…

Still nothing. So mind reading was out.

Next theory. I stared at a screwed up wrapper on the table next to me, imagining it moving of it’s own accord off the table, falling to the floor. Nothing else existed, darkness crept around the edges of my vision until only a circle of light existed around the crinkled plastic wrapper. No sound, not even my own breathing could be perceived.

Move! I thought.

Then suddenly it did.

“Is this yours?” Matthew had picked up the discarded rubbish I’d been staring at and held it out to me. “You look like you want it pretty badly.”

“Huh?” I blinked at him, the world around me flooding back into focus.

“At first I thought you were going to get up and thump Jane, although I don’t know why you would, she’s a nice girl. Then you turned your anger towards this innocent screwed up piece of plastic. So either you’re starving, angry or constipated. Nonetheless your expression is extremely unpleasant.”

“I was just thinking.”

“Of what? Me?” Matthew sat leaning forward with a silly grin.

“No.”

“You forgot to turn off the gas?”

“Matt!” I warned.

“You’re in a mood tody. It’s not one of those lady things is it?”

If I had the power to compel anyone, it would have worked now. Every cell in my body was wishing Matthew would stop talking and leave. Even Bernie and Rebekah had stopped their intense whispering to stare at me.

“You know what? I think I’ll eat lunch somewhere else.”

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You Pashed a Demon? …. by Casey Carlisle

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Freezing my butt off at 1am, dressed in a white robe, sucking face with a demon… and it tastes like rubber!

As a bit of fun I agreed to star in a short film called ‘Midnight’s Medicine;’ Written, Produced and Directed by Ian West. Think ‘Creepshow’ or a gory ‘Twilight Zone’ and you’ll get the picture. The main motivation for taking part in this adventure was not only to add to my earthly experiences, but push outside my comfort zone and see what happens. It was a blast!

Thanks goodness I was only in make-up and costume for half an hour, not like the actors playing the demons in the film, whom spent in excess of two hours having layers of rubber and foam prosthetics and slatherings of face paint caked on to have them looking effectively horrific. My character was Wendy – the forty year old sacrificial virgin… only that I was a chain smoking, nine month pregnant (and ready to pop) sacrificial virgin; and amorous with all the demons to boot! I was done up in over-the-top smeared pageant make-up and messy, back-combed hair and gently pushed out on to a smoke filled set.

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Cue the comedic performance, complete with a flirt and lick up the side of a spiky-face demon, followed by a cough… when the baby gestating inside my belly deftly popped out and fell to the ground with a wet splat (a prop baby, so don’t start ringing child services). At this point the surrounding five demons, all about to plunge a dagger into my heart in sacrifice to their adored devil master, are astounded that I am not, in fact, a virgin, and begin to accuse each other for defiling my virtue. Then the truth comes out – I’d had my wicked ways with all of them. A fight ensues and they all manage to slaughter each other leaving me standing there uninterested and puffing away on a ciggie.

The screen fades with me wandering off, shrugging at the display, forgetting the recently birthed progeny wriggling in a slimy puddle at my feet.

Not exactly a love story. LOL.

Best part of the night would have to be the camaraderie and catering services – best pasta and sausage sizzle to date. The worst, stepping in a tin of the lighter fluid used for the torches off camera and walking about the rest of the Melbourne middle-of-winters-night with a soggy shoe, and smelling like gasoline.

So I put it to you: don’t be afraid to try something new and crazy, you never know what kind of fun you’re going to have. They always make great stories!

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.