Earlier this year, Raffaella Covino was cast as Swing and Dance Captain in Sally Cookson’s Peter Pan at the Troubadour Theatre, and has recently been announced to join the 2020 UK Tour of A Monster Calls opening at Chichester Festival Theatre in February. Raffaella runs Applause for thought, helping those in the arts and entertainment industry with their mental health, which saw her win three awards at The Industry Minds Awards. Taking time to speak with us, we found out from Raffaella about being Swing and Dance Captain in Peter Pan, what she’s looking forward to for joining A Monster Calls and her Applause for thought organisation.
What are you looking forward to for starting your roles in A Monster Calls?
The show has so many different elements to it. I am most looking forward to combining these, movement, song, script, aerial and physical theatre in order to tell a truly incredible story.
Can you tell us about being Swing and Dance Captain in Peter Pan at the Troubadour Theatre?
It was my first time being a Swing and Dance Captain on a non-musical so it was a very new, exciting and challenging experience. I had to adapt swing bible writing techniques and track learning and come at it from a far more free, improvised and collaborative angle. It was joyful, organised chaos – which is exactly how Neverland should be!
Can you say about King in Concert that you were part of at Hackney Empire?
King was one of the shortest, yet special projects I’ve been a part of. It was my first musical workshop and the piece and cast were out of this world. Getting to listen to Cedric Neal sing for two weeks was a JOY!
Had you worked with any of the cast previously?
I had done Cinderella with Sinead and Matt at The Hackney Empire the year before.
You appeared in On the Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, what was the show like to appear in?
Working at Regent’s Park Open Air was a bucket list moment for me. I can only describe the piece as classy. The costumes, design, choreography and incredible score made it feel very much like I was in a dream. (The mosquito bites were entirely worth it!)
How did you find returning to In The Heights at Kings Cross Theatre after being in the show at Southwark Playhouse?
It was an extremely strange and wonderful experience. To go back and do a show that, in my opinion, changed my life and career, years later was incredibly humbling. I was very lucky to get to go back this time as a Dance Captain, Swing and understudy Nina, so I felt a real sense of growth and deep love for the show. It will always hold a very special place in my heart.
What were Mimi and Maureen like to understudy in the 20th Anniversary Tour of Rent?
Mimi has been a dream role of mine since drama school, so to get to understudy her… there aren’t really words! However, I found Maureen a real challenge! The role doesn’t come naturally to me and in cover rehearsals I had to really work at pushing myself out of my comfort zone in order to portray such a confident, wild, rebellious, strong female!
What do you enjoy about have the role of Dance Captain in productions?
Being a Dance Captain has been my real calling. I love being able to support and lead a company both creatively but maybe even more so personally. Getting to rehearse understudies and swings and watching them shine on stage gives me more sense of achievement than when I go on myself!
Can you tell us about your training?
I started my professional training as a dancer at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, age fourteen and went on to attend The London School of Musical Theatre where I graduated in 2013. I have been extremely lucky with my training, as I feel I have had a real all-round and varied experience in terms of styles, genres and disciplines.
Had you always wanted a career in dance and theatre?
I knew from a pretty young age that this was what I wanted to do. I was never sure exactly where in the arts I wanted to be, straight music, dance, musical theatre etc. I felt pressured by myself to pick one, but have learnt as I’ve got older that it’s more than ok to love the arts as a whole, and be adaptable and encouraging of crossing genres and combining talents.
You are founder and director of Applause for thought, can you say more about this?
I founded and now run a non-profit organisation called Applause for thought that launched on February 3rd 2019 and is now a triple award-winning organisation that provides free and low-cost mental health support, talks and workshops to those in the arts and entertainment industry.
How did Applause for thought come about?
I took 2018 out of the industry in order to look after my own mental health. I saw a huge need for more support, education and guidance and this was how AFT was born. Our aim using our mantra ‘education equals prevention’ is to break the stigma surrounding mental health and to help make education on the subject, support and therapy more accessible.
How was it attending and winning at The Industry Minds Awards earlier this year?
Entirely overwhelming. It was an incredible evening, to be surrounded by so many people with the same common goal of raising awareness and providing better mental health care in the arts. I did not think I was going to win one, let alone three awards!
For those wanting to attend one of your events but unsure what it will involve, can you say what they are like and do you have any future events planned?
They all run with a similar format, starting with a talk from a specialist guest speaker, followed by a discussion with a panel of creatives and then finishing with an audience Q&A with guest speaker and panel. All the talks are on different subjects surrounding mental health. Previous ones have included performance anxiety and self-esteem, tax and money management, men’s mental health and the effects of the industry on mental health. Future ones are set to include loss and grief, addiction and body image. Head to our social media platforms for more info!
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