Theatre show about life in a SEN school touring the UK this Autumn

Neal Pike presents: Five Years

An adolescence spent at a special educational needs school is revisited to ask what it means to refuse the labels others make for you

Written and performed by Neal Pike | Directed by Matt Miller

UK tour

@FiveYearShow1 | @neal86 | #FiveYearsShow | | Trailer

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.

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.”

Matt Miller is a poet, performer and theatre maker. In 2014, Matt was chosen as one of BBC Radio Three’s Verb New Voices. Matt’s poem River Monster, about their Tyneside childhood, was broadcast on the show. Two years later, their debut solo theatre show, Sticking, played to sold-out venues in Newcastle, Manchester and Durham. Their follow-up work for the stage, Fitting, is currently under development. Matt was also a member of the Mouthy Poets, a poetry collective from Nottingham, which is where they first met Neal Pike. 

Running Time: 60 minutes | Suitable for ages 16+

Content/Trigger warning: references to bullying, occasional strong language

All performances are relaxed and BSL interpreted

Company Information

Written and performed by Neal Pike    Directed by Matt MillerProduced by Dan Nicholas        

Listings information

25 Sep              The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
Civic Drive, Ipswich, IP1 2AS
                        7.45pm | £10 (£5 concs)

                        01473 295900 |

27 Sep              Theatre Deli, Sheffield

                        202 Eyre Street, Sheffield, S1 4QZ 
                        7.45pm | £10 (£8 concs)

                        01142 786500 |

1 Oct                 Old Fire Station, Oxford

                        40 George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AQ 
                        7:30pm | £12 (£10 concs)

                        01865 263990 |

5 Oct                 Derby Theatre, Derby

                        15 Theatre Walk, St Peter’s Quarter, Derby, DE1 2NF 
                        7.30pm | £12 (£10 concs)

                        01332 59 39 39, Text number: 07717 346 964 |

8 Oct                 Nottingham Playhouse, Nottingham

                        Wellington Circus, Nottingham, NG1 5AF 
                        7.30pm | £12 (£10 concs)

                        01159 419419 |

24 Oct               The Seagull, Lowestoft

                        19-74 Morton Rd, Lowestoft, NR33 0JH
                        7.30pm | £9 (£7 concs)

                        01502 589726 |

1 Nov                Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester

                        University of Leicester, Lancaster Rd, Leicester, LE1 7HA
                        7pm | £10 (£5 concs)

                        01162 522455 |

8 Nov                Chapel FM Arts Centre, Leeds

                        Old Seacroft Chapel, York Road, Leeds, LS14 6JB
                        Times and prices TBC

                        01132 255944 |

15 & 16 Nov     Camden People’s Theatre

                        58-60 Hampstead Road, London, NW1 2PY
                        9pm | £12 (£10 concs)

                        0207 4194841 |

21 Nov              Theatre Shop, Theatre Orchard, Clevedon

                        Unit 5, Queens Square, Clevedon, North Somerset, BS21 6HX
                        Times and prices TBC

                        0333 666 3366 |

23 Nov              Phoenix, Exeter

                        Gandy Street, Exeter, EX4 3LS
                        Times and prices TBC

                        01392 667080 |

3 Dec                Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton

                        Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, WV1 1SE
                        Times and prices TBC

                        01902 321321 |

Supported by Project Grants funding from Arts Council England