James Fritz's Start Swimming is a play that asks what power young people have to affect change and resist authority. It was developed by the Young Vic Taking Part department, and was first performed in The Clare, Young Vic, London, on 26 April 2017. It transferred to Summerhall, Edinburgh, on 2 August 2017, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The playtext is presented as a series of questions or instructions issued by an unnamed, unidentified authority figure to a subject or subjects, whose responses are met with either a reward or a punishment. In the text, a 'Y' indicates an affirmative response, 'a yes, or a ding, or a reward of some sort', while an 'X' indicates a negative response, 'a no, or a buzzer, or a punishment of some sort'. If the subject's response is met with an 'X', indicating a 'wrong' answer, the action is often reset to an earlier point, forcing the subject to amend their answer in order for the action to proceed.
In an Introduction in the published text, James Fritz writes that 'Start Swimming was made incredibly quickly in the spring of 2017 with director Ola Ince and Young Vic Taking Part. Tasked with responding to Paul Mason’s performance and book Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere (which documented the successes and failures of the various protests and revolutions of 2011), Ola and I worked with a group of twelve young people from Lambeth and Southwark to create a new piece that would transfer from the Young Vic to the Edinburgh Fringe. Our aim was to make something that would articulate how our cast felt about growing up marginalised in a major city during a time of incredible political upheaval.'
The first production was directed by Ola Ince and designed by Jacob Hughes. It was performed by Adrian David Paul, Charlotte Dylan, Eleanor Williams, Emma James, Filipe Caetano, Hana Oliveira, Isaac Vincent, Kaajel Patel, Kimberley Okoye, Kwabena Ansah and Shanice Weekes-Brown.