Thursday, 30 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: Raffaella Covino


These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

Raffaella Covino was most recently seen in the UK Tour of A Monster Calls as Ensemble and Dance Captain. Her other credits include Ensemble in King (Hackney Empire); Swing in On the Town (Regent's Park, Open Air Theatre); Swing and cover Mimi & Maureen in RENT (UK Tour); Swing, Dance Captain and cover Nina in In The Heights (Kings Cross Theatre &n Southwark Playhouse); Lou-ann in Hairspray (UK Tour); Associate Choreographer and Swing in The Sound of Music (International venues) and Bertha in Applause (Bridewell Theatre). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was on my way back to London from celebrating a friend’s birthday in the countryside with the plan to head straight back to my flat to pack for my next tour venue for the play I was doing. My flight to Aberdeen was due to be very early the next morning! It was a mixed reaction. Of course, initial confusion and panic at the severity and potential consequences of the decision for both myself, my friends and the whole industry, world even! But quickly relief came over me that I hadn’t yet travelled to Aberdeen and was safe, home, healthy and able to relax and process in my flat. 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?

I have a mantra for isolation and that is - Mental health before productivity. As to me, nurturing and exploring how to look after your mental health during these times is one of the most productive and important things we could be doing. 

I run a mental health non-profit organisation called Applause for Thought and it has been a joy to be able to make that my full time focus. Amongst other initiatives we have started doing Saturday Check-ins on Instagram Live where I chat to a guest about mental health in the arts, our incredible first guest was Drew Mconie and we had Owen from Tax for Actors on last week to help decipher the jargon surrounding universal credit and government grants. It has been so wonderful to engage with the AFT audience in this way! On a personal note, I have a spoken word artist/poet alter ego called The Italian Poet, and It has been nothing short of cathartic release to get to have the time to write poems and spoken word pieces. My creative juices have been definitely flowing during this time! 

Whenever you log onto social media there is so much negativity circulating. How have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times? 

Another little mantra is unfollow, mute and choose your news! Like all things in life, social media can be used positively and negatively. We cannot control how people chose to use it themselves, but we do have a choice on who we follow and what accounts we choose to engage with. I have been limiting my social media time, following new accounts, unfollowing others and really listening to myself about what kind of day I’m having. Usually if I’m in a positive mood, social media does not effect me. But if I am feeling low, it can be a very toxic place for me to spend my time, so instead I take a break to get back to ‘me’ through yoga, meditation, watching something funny on Netflix, calling a friend or colouring and writing. 

With the Arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the Arts industries? 

One way would be encouraging friends and family, perhaps those who may be in a more secure financial position, to donate to theatres themselves and to some of the amazing theatrical funds that have been long-running or that are new that help support the arts and artists themselves. So many people have come together so brilliantly to create online concerts, access to archives of shows - buying tickets for those is a really positive way to keep the arts alive and generate a much deserved income. 

Have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to our viewers? 

I was asked to recommend a book for @aimeesbookclub (on instagram if anyone would like to check it out!) I chose The Alchemist. It is a story I come back to at least once a year. It has so much hope and calm and learning that can be found in it read after read! I have to do a shout out to my girls over at Industry Minds, they have a mental health podcast and now would be a great time to go back and listen from the beginning! Russel Brand’s Under the Skin and new discovery Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. For shows, I would say The National Theatre Live on YouTube. On Instagram, Mconie Company Class Thursday’s 7-8 on Instagram Live and Applause for thought: Our Saturday Check-ins 11.30am on Instagram Live! Fitness I would recommend @thalia_burt and @alistair_toovey on Instagram. 

In these times of Social Distancing and isolation, how have you been trying to connect with Friends and Family? Any fun quizzes or games?! 

This is a really interesting one for me actually. I want to use this platform to reassure anyone out there that may be able to relate or may need to hear this, that it is OK to not do 4 face times a day, attend every quiz and or be available to chat on your phone all the time. I have absolutely done some amazing quiz nights, cooking nights, even a virtual movie night with pals and family, but like I would in real life, I limit them to a few a week so can still have time away from the screen and to chill by myself. This also means that when I do catch up with them, I have more to say, am more present and actually miss them! 

And finally, looking to the future, what are you most looking forward to when all of this is over? 

As I am a mental health advocate. My biggest hope is that people are able to quieten the outside influence, noise and pressure enough to tune in with themselves. If you can come out the other side of this, knowing more about yourself, more about the connections you have with others and why, having found contentment in simpler things and ultimately have worked on their mental health and overcome this testing time - then that is more than enough. I am most looking forward to seeing how we then collectively implement that learning (even if it doesn’t last forever.) Trying to hold on to how incredible and exciting even the smallest things are going to feel like. Hugging a friend, seeing my mum, seeing theatres filled and to be honest, even getting cut from a dance call I think is going to feel pretty epic. 

We'd like to thank Raffaella and all other performers who have given up their time to contribute to this feature.

For more information please visit GOV.UK and NHS.co.uk

Other useful links for anyone needing further help:

Acting For Others - Charity that provides financial & emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need.
Help Musicians - An independent Charity that helps all forms of Musicians through times of need.
Industry Minds - Mental Health Support for the creative arts.
Theatre Helpline - a free, independent and confidential phone and email service that provides support to people working in the theatre industry.
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