Edinburgh Fringe highly acclaimed hit Brown Boys Swim, winner of the prestigious Popcorn Award and The Scotsman’s Fringe First Award, is transferring to The North Wall, Oxford and Soho Theatre, London. Writer Karim Khan (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 coming-of-age tale, produced by The North Wall.
Boisterous and self-opinionated best friends Mohsen (Anish Roy) and Kash (Varun Raj) 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 how to be at one with the water. But learning how to swim 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 examines 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.
Karim Khan comments, I’m incredibly excited for the play to transfer to Oxford and London, and to see the show take further life in front of more wonderful audiences. Our Edinburgh run was wonderful and beyond my wildest dreams, so I can’t wait to embark on the next leg of the journey. I also can’t wait to see some desi crowds filling up Soho Upstairs.
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 have worked together to develop the play across the last year with John Hoggarth providing dramaturgical support.