Sheila Carrasco’s virtual comedy ‘Anyone But Me’ streams through April 18

By Haley Beyer

The production dissects the psyches of women who struggled with self-identity, exploring the personas people create to get by.

In response to COVID-19, IAMA Theatre Company decided to record live productions on stage, then stream the performances so that they could be watched later.

“Anyone But Me” is a solo comedy filmed live at LA’s Pico Playhouse that was written and performed by Santa Monica resident Sheila Carrasco, who has been with IAMA for three years. Although this was her first solo theater show, Carrasco’s credits include IAMA’s “Found: A New Musical,” the Groundlings, CBS and NBC/Universal, and others.
“My favorite part was bringing the two worlds together [theater and TV acting] into one character-driven solo,” Carrasco said. “It was a new feeling for me.”

Carrasco has always wanted to do a solo and viewed it as the perfect opportunity to put a bunch of characters together. She played all eight roles; the inspiration sprouted from the theme of self-identity and exploring different versions of herself.

“All eight characters are very different versions of me,” Carrasco said. “The power of the production lies in the variation and number of characters, because it gives the viewers that many more chances to connect with one of them and feel seen.”

Carrasco was able to pinpoint the exact characters she felt would properly portray the theme of the production: “At what point do you feel fully yourself?” To do this, she asked herself why it was her first impulse to be someone else through wigs and costumes. This pushed Carrasco to eliminate those elements from the production to allow the characters to shine through her acting alone.

Viewers can expect a character-driven comedy with surprises and moments of deep seriousness. Carrasco hopes that each viewer will be moved by the production. From the local grocery clerk to a neighbor’s teenage daughter, the bottom line is accepting who each person is as they learn to do the same for themselves.

“This play is an exploration of all my different alter egos and the insecurities I’ve had in my life, and about accepting the nuance of everything that makes me who I am,” Carrasco said. “We don’t have to be just one thing.”

This philosophy also carried over into the filming of the show.

“I learned not to be afraid to write something and make it,” Carrasco said.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect, there is value in writing from your heart and gut and not judging it.”

Doing her first solo show already was enough pressure, but performing during COVID-19 made it harder because Carrasco couldn’t play off the audience’s reactions. She had to maintain the energy and flow throughout the production, which were especially important because people watching from home tend to have shorter attention spans and are more likely to be distracted.

Carrasco wanted her performance to be something that her audience couldn’t look away from. She wanted the “on-demand” experience to be just as good as the real deal with people signing off at the end of the show with the same emotional response they would have experienced in person.

Carrasco had an entire team helping her with production details such as lighting and the camera, (all following COVID-19 mandates), including director Margaux Susi, who proved to be a perfect match for the show.

“I’ve always clicked with Margaux and trust her direction and opinion,” Carrasco said.

“Anyone But Me” will continue streaming through Sunday, April 18. Tickets cost $15 and can be purchase at iamatheatre.com

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