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maatan - Duck Edinburgh Fringe Interview

As part as our Edinburgh Fringe 2024 coverage we are running a series of interviews with artists and creatives that are taking part in the festival. 

In this interview we speak to maatan who has written and produced Duck. 

Where did your arts career begin?
Somewhat recently in the grand scheme of things! After secretly harbouring desires to do this sort of work for almost a decade, I applied to drama school at 28. Before that, I’d never shared a piece of writing with anyone else, which I had to get over quite quickly! It’s a bit of a blur to look back on and I never imagined I’d be where I am today at any point along the wayso I’m just really grateful for it all.

What can you tell me about your show?
Duck follows a fifteen-year-old boy named Ismailwho’s the star cricket player at his very posh, very elitist school in London (the sort you hear about because of how many Prime Ministers went there).

At the start of the season, Ismail’s got his sights on becoming the best batsman in school history. But as the name might suggest (a duck in cricket is a really bad outcome), things start to take a turn for the worse, both on and off the pitch, and we get to see how this teenager deals with adversity for the first time in his life.

And in the background – the play is set in 2005 – you’ve got England trying to win the Ashes, and the 7/7 London bombings take place. Which adds a layer of context for Ismail, who has to figure out what it means to be Brown, to be Muslim, at this age, in this place, at this time.

How would you describe the style of the show?
Technically, it’s a monologue, and a one-person show, but those descriptions sometimes feel like a betrayal of the play’s true essence! I don’t know why... It’s an incredibly action-packed performance, with so many textures achieved through the various design elements that really fill the space and world with such richness.

You’re transported into this very idiosyncratic environment of a British public school in 2005, with all its weird traditions and habits, then you’re in the house of a British south Asian Muslim family watching a Bollywood film, and then you’re out on a cricket pitch with commentary, and somehow it all feels alive – that’s a testament to our creative team and their brilliance. You’ll certainly be kept on your toes for the full hour, so I consider it getting your money’s worth!

How have you approached developing the piece?
I’ve been fortunate to have had incredible support along the way, starting back in 2020 with the Hampstead Theatre’s INSPIRE programme, under the mentorship of the inspirational Roy Williams. Partnering up with director ImyWyatt Corner has created a constancy, comfort, and trust throughout the play’s life, and she has both given me so much confidence as a new writer (this is my first full-length play to make it on stage!) and herself been fundamental to the play’s creative growth. 

While the core idea has remained throughout, the play has evolved massively over its various outings so far, which is something I never realised I would enjoy so much. This will be the fourth actor to perform the role in four years, which is a dream come true for me as my utmost goal is to create more opportunity for Brown creatives in this industry, and the continued life and interest in this play has been more than I could ever ask for.

How do/will you prepare yourself for a run at the Fringe?
We are remounting the show from its run at the Arcola in London last summer, so on some level I like to think we’re a well-oiled machine. But as a first timer at Fringe in any capacity, I’m relying on my team’s experience and expertise, in particular our phenomenal producer Eve Allin, in dealing with a completely unique environment that has its own particular challenges.

I’ve also made tweaks to the script (again) and have cast the mightily talented Qasim Mahmood to play Ismail. This is the third actor that director Imy Wyatt Corner will work with on the role, and each time is a whole new process that’s both thrilling and requires a rigorous level of commitment.

Other than the show, what’s something you’re looking forward to doing in Edinburgh this year?
This is my first time at the Fringe, which I’m a bit ashamed to admit! As it draws nearer, I’m starting to get clued up as to all the shows I want and need to see – in particular, my fellow Charlie Hartill Fund winners. I will definitely seek out other creatives of colour, as it’s well-documented that Fringe can be a place that doesn’t cater to us, so I’ll do my part to foster an environment where we can support one another.

What keeps you inspired?
As a playwright, there’s nothing like the experience of seeing how audiences respond to your work. Getting to chat to people after performances has been the most fulfilling part of my career so far, and certainly provides the juice to get back to writing and generating new ideas, to hopefully deliver for those people again and again.

What do you hope an audience takes away from seeing the show?
try to write for audiences that hopefully would identify with Ismail on some level, having been through similar experiences themselves, and the play would hopefully create a form of healing and comfort for them.

More broadly, I think the play does a good job of taking some of the more defined understandings or identifiers of “Britishness”, cricket being one of them, and asks questions of their validity and truth. I feel like we’re constantly being told what these definitions are, usually to justify or enforce nefarious and immoral actions, so the more we question them ourselves, the better.

Where can audiences see the show?
Duck is playing at Pleasance Courtyard Beneath from 31st Jul - 26th Aug (excl. 12th, 19th) at 1540. It’s 60 minutes and all performances are captioned.

Tickets for Duck are available from

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