Sitting in Limbo masterclass

“A fantastic story for the whole country to hear and to see” – Q&A with the cast and crew of Sitting in Limbo

Posted on June 5, 2020

We were thrilled to be joined by the team behind the new standalone BBC drama Sitting in Limbo for this week’s Thursday Thoughts session.

Written by novelist Stephen S. Thompson, the drama is based on the experiences of his brother Anthony Bryan who was wrongfully detained by the Home Office and threatened with deportation. This shocking and powerful insight into the Windrush Scandal will air on Monday 8th of June at 8:30 pm on BBC One.

The discussion was chaired by Creative Access CEO Josie Dobrin and included panel members Stella Corradi, Stephen S. Thompson and Patrick Robinson. An award-winning director, Stella has directed acclaimed work, including Trigonometry and Through the Gates, which was nominated for Best Single Drama at the BAFTA’s. A leading writer, Stephen’s novels include Toy Soldiers and No More Heroes and is currently a Senior Lecturer in Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction at the University of Winchester. Playing the lead, Patrick is an eminent figure of British television and theatre and has been on screen in Casualty, The Bill, Strictly Come Dance and Mount Pleasant. We are in awe of all their work!

Each of our guests had important things to impart on the industry and representing this deeply troubling part of British history on screen. Reflecting on playing the part of Anthony, Patrick shared that, “you don’t need to act … you feel what you experience.” He revealed that “when I saw the script and read it, I was in tears by the end … I knew I wanted to be a part of the production.” After meeting the team, he became part of a “fantastic story that needed to be told for the whole of this country to hear and to see.”

Stella shared that she wanted to direct Sitting in Limbo as soon as she came across it: “it was a hard job to get, it was a really great script.” She discussed the responsibility a director has when looking out for her cast and crew. She ensured the cast were kept uplifted outside of the heavy drama they were filming as she revealed, “we laughed a lot.” Stella also emphasised that the director is part of a much wider team: “As a director, you need to be clear in communicating your vision to every head of department so they can filter it through their individual teams. It requires a lot of trust.”

Stephen spoke about his personal highlight of the whole process: “Overall seeing the very first cut, when it’s all stitched together and seeing the whole thing come together.” When discussing the nature of Sitting in Limbo as a story, he stressed the importance of diverse storytelling: “Too often diversity is associated with race racism, and the challenge for the broadcasters and the industry is for us to go beyond that. This is obviously an important story for us to tell, but we want to be able to tell stories beyond this as well.”

Too often diversity is associated with race racism, and the challenge for the broadcasters and the industry is for us to go beyond that.

Lastly, when Josie asked for one line of advice for people who want to direct, act and write, the panellists offered the following:

  • Stella advised directors to “try and get on set and see how it works, try and figure out all the roles and understand what everyone does, that’s the biggest education you can have.”
  • Patrick said, “Just do it! Use your imagination and just do it, use your phone and make something.”
  • Stephen advised aspiring writers to “write everyday. Try and make the writing the centre of your being, your existence and your daily existence. Practice, practice, practice.”

A huge thank you to Stella, Stephen and Patrick for their brilliant and inspiring discussion and to the team at IJPR for organising the session (especially to our brilliant former Creative Access trainee Nicole Campbell). 

You can watch the session in full here.