The highly acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe hit Brown Boys Swim, winner of the prestigious Popcorn Award and The Scotsman’s Fringe First Award, is touring the UK this Autumn. Writer Karim Khan (selected as a member of the Soho Six 2023/2024, recipient of Riz Ahmed’s Left Handed Films and Pillars Fund inaugural fellowship) examines the pressures that surround young Muslim men today in this lyrical, poignant coming-of-age tale, produced by The North Wall.
Boisterous and self-opinionated best friends Mohsen and Kash are preparing for their post-school future, but first they need to nab an invitation to the biggest social event of term – Jess Denver’s pool party. Fuelled by halal Haribo, university-minded Mohsen and girl-crazy Kash won’t let the fact they can’t swim stand in their way, and embark on a race to teach themselves to swim. But it is more than a quick jump in the deep end – Mohsen and Kash must tackle expectations, prejudice and public changing rooms.
Considering how systemic racism and societal pressures can push people along a relentless current, Brown Boys Swim explores how we can be prevented from being and understanding our most authentic selves. This funny and moving play takes a deep dive into communities who are consciously and unconsciously forbidden from spaces like pools – where microaggressions are a sign of something more insidious.
Brown Boys Swim is the recipient of the 2022 Popcorn Writing Award, with judges including Bridgerton’s Luke Thompson and Olivier Award-winning Fleabag producer Francesca Moody. In week two of the Fringe, the production won an esteemed Scotsman Fringe First award, which recognises outstanding new writing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Brown Boys Swim went on to have a successful sell-out Autumn tour in Oxford and London
Writer Karim Khan comments, I can’t wait for us to bring Brown Boys Swim to more audiences, across the breadth of the country. The piece holds a very special place in my heart, and I’m absolutely thrilled that we get to relive it all over again with even more people.
The award-winning, sell out success is directed by John Hoggarth and produced by Fringe First award-winning The North Wall. Karim Khan is an alumnus of The North Wall’s ArtsLab programme – an artist development programme for early-career artists. The relationship with Karim and The North Wall has been developing since 2018 and, as well as being co-commissioners on this project, they worked together to develop the play with John Hoggarth providing dramaturgical support.