Based on Neal Pike’s memories of life at a special educational needs (SEN) school, Five Years uses poetry, storytelling and direct address to explore an adolescence shaped by being marked ‘disabled’ owing to his stutter.
Directed by Matt Miller, this sharp, subtle and brutally human solo show questions the limited expectations others had for a child with a stutter. Five Years is a work about refusing to conform to those ideas, reaching for a life beyond the one teachers and parents had planned for him, and keeping hold of a sense of self during turbulent times.
From 1998-2002, poet and performer Neal Pike was a pupil at Foxwood, an SEN school in Nottinghamshire. At once a show about the uniqueness of SEN schooling and the commonalities of teenage experience, Neal describes Foxwood as being both difference to other schools and, in many ways, exactly the same. Filled with 90s references and often painfully relatable anecdotes, the piece explores how our school experiences help shape the people we grow up to be, for better or worse.
Writer and performer Neal Pike said, “Being told you can’t do something because you’re special and you will be forever known as special always stuck with me. I wrote this show and am touring it because I want to show people that it’s possible to do things when everyone defines you as having disabilities and forever dampen your expectations”.
Director Matt Miller said, “Working with Neal on Five Years is where I’ve learned my craft as a director and it has been an immense privilege to be allowed access to work on such a rich, deep, complex, moving and entertaining story. Neal’s performance style, both with joyful off the cuff humour and real felt investment and care in his own stories creates an almost effortless connection with audiences, which is great to watch and be part of. I can’t wait to help bring his story to an audience across the UK.”