Theatre show about life in a SEN school coming to Leicester
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.
Neal Pike is a poet and performer based in Nottingham. He was inspired to create Five Years, his first work for the stage, after hearing theatre maker and comedian Jess Thom, a.k.a Touretteshero, (Backstage in Biscuit Land and Not I) present a talk on making autobiographical art at an Arvon writing retreat. Having previously mentioned his school days and youth in Identity Bike Ride, his debut poetry pamphlet, Neal felt the time was right to delve deeper into his past and broaden his own artistic practice with a work for theatre. Along with performing his work at venues across the UK and internationally, Neal is the leader of Tentacles, a collective and network for disabled and d/Deaf writers supported by Unlimited.