It's OK "captures the late-night discussions we’ve all had in university corridors, as we briefly convince ourselves that global change is at our fingertips."Raffaella Sero with permission for Varsity

On Valentine’s Day 2022, sitting in the Iris café, Raffaella Sero wrote the first full outline of It’s OK, I Still Think You’re Great, a play which she had first begun planning as an undergrad in 2015. Almost two years later, I meet her in the same spot to discuss how she’s feeling ahead of the show’s first performance the following week. Sitting quite literally in the shadow of the writings of Newnham alumnae (courtesy of the Iris’ gorgeous light sculpture), Raffaella is full of praise for the women’s college that shaped her play. “Newnham was created for us”, she says. “I adore Newnham.”

It’s OK, I Still Think You’re Great follows Tibby as she prepares for her twenty-fifth birthday party with the help of her flatmate Anika. First to arrive, however, is Ginevra, an old friend with whom Tibby has barely kept in touch since Gin moved back to Italy. As the trio set up for the party, tensions run high, and old secrets re-emerge.

“You don’t become a creative. You are a creative”

The play seems in many ways to be a love letter to female friendships, echoing the conversations that Raffaella has had with her own friends. Set within the confines of a single room, it explores the importance of these discussions, and the value of discovering yourself amongst your friends. “I’m really obsessed with my friends”, Raffaella confesses. “A lot of the conversations in the play are basically transpositions of conversations I’ve had with them.” Even the title is lifted from the words of her friend Evie, with whom Raffaella co-wrote The Other, which had a highly successful run at Edinburgh Fringe. “Everyone gets rejections all the time,” Raffaella recalls her saying, “but maybe we just need people to be around us and tell us it’s okay, I still think you’re great.”

Raffaella is no stranger to creative rejection; with none of her work yet published, she sat down to craft the outline of It’s OK at a point when she was struggling to call herself a writer. Sitting in the Iris the very next day - but now with the framework of a play - she received an email from a journal wishing to publish one of her short stories. “That was the first time that I had a yes email instead of a no email”, she tells me, “and I feel like if that had happened one day before I wouldn’t have been able to write It’s OK.” This seems to sum up her current philosophy: “you don’t become a creative. You are a creative.”

“This script has shaped her life as much as her life has shaped it”

For this writer, creativity is personal vulnerability, and it is clear that this play has an immensely intimate quality. It’s OK was written as a response to Raffaella’s experiences as an immigrant, particularly in the context of the Brexit vote which occurred less than a year after she moved to the UK. The play hinges not only on the relationships between the three characters, but also their individual relationships with their own cultures. Representing her own experience is important to Raffaella, but she is clear that this has always been an organic thing: she is drawn to immigrant characters because of her own identity. Indeed, she credits her journey creating the play as a significant element in her coming-out story. Despite feeling that the character of Anika was queer, she was uncertain about writing queer characters as a straight woman, only later realising that “my characters are queer because I am queer.”

The more Raffaella talks about the show, the clearer it becomes that this script has shaped her life as much as her life has shaped it. Every layer of the narrative, from the London flat in which it is set, to the protagonist’s propensity to quote Shakespeare, prompts a story of the experiences behind it. Before I know it, an hour has passed, and I am late for my seminar, but before I leave I have to ask Raffaella how she feels about putting something so personal onto the stage. “I’m scared”, she admits openly, “but for me, if it doesn’t feel too close, if it doesn’t feel dangerous, then it’s not worth putting onstage.”


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As we wrap up our conversation, Raffaella mentions casually a feeling that she needs to learn to write stories that are ‘bigger’ than these domestic scenes. As I hurry across Sidgwick site to my seminar, I can’t help but feel that she is underestimating her play. The kitchen-counter conversations that make up It’s OK traverse political and social issues in a way which captures the late-night discussions we’ve all had in university corridors, as we briefly convince ourselves that global change is at our fingertips. There is nothing small about the experiences captured by Raffaella, nor the weight that these moments carry.

It’s Okay, I Still Think You’re Great will be showing in Fitzpatrick Hall in Queens College at 7:30pm from Thursday 16th to Saturday 18th November 2023.