Written by Kevin Dyer
Directed by Joe Sumsion
A physical play performed around, on and under a table tennis table.
The Table Tennis Years is about dads and their boys – in particular about Dan and his son Sam who can only manage to communicate by spending hours and hours around the table. They never talk, except to keep score, but playing table tennis gets them through everything - exams, redundancy, Mum leaving home, first girlfriend, second girlfriend, everything.
Like all great plays, it’s about subtext, about the unsaid and the unsayable. It’s about a father and son whose only way of expressing their love and their frustrations is through the table tennis they play at mornings before school, after school and during the holidays.
They play it in the Summer in shorts and in Winter with coats and hats and fingerless gloves.
‘I never knew it could happen to me: that my lovely, curious, playful boy would become silent, uncommunicative, secretive.’
‘It’s like they want to know everything, like my life isn’t my own, like I’ve got to be a kid and always in bed by seven. I hate it.’
‘The problem is: one of you is interested in control and looking backwards, the other in freedom and going forward.’
The Table Tennis Years is a knife-edge time of complex, slippery interactions, full of guessing and getting it wrong. It is not a play about toxic masculinity, more a playing-out of growing up, growing apart and growing back together. It’s made from delicate, truthful conversations and interviews between Kevin Dyer and dozens of teenage boys and dads. A story told through the movement of bodies, verbatim stories and crafted prose. A play with hope for the male of the species.
The Table Tennis Years plays in the round to an original soundtrack. It is made for intimate theatres and venues and is flexible for audiences and venues grappling with Covid 19 restrictions. Sometimes there is a ball, sometimes not. Sometimes there is a net, sometimes other things between them. There is another character too, the boy’s Mum, the father’s wife. We never see her, but she is in the fabric of the family, the fixed point.
After the show, there might be a game of ping pong.
The Table Tennis Years is made by Storm in the North – a new production company making arresting theatre for curious people. It seeks to energize, beguile and to tell the truth.
Kevin Dyer is Artistic Associate at Farnham Maltings, and Associate Writer for Action Transport Theatre. He writes, leads writing courses, is a poet and a story-teller. He has been awarded the ‘International Inspirational Playwright Award’ by ASSITEJ at their World Congress in Cape Town, won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Play for Young People, and has been shortlisted a dozen times for other awards.
Joe Sumsion is a freelance director and lecturer, having previously worked as Artistic Director of both Action Transport Theatre and The Dukes, Lancaster. He has commissioned and directed many productions with Kevin, including their production of ‘The Hobbit’ which won the UK Theatre ‘Best Production for Children and Young People’ award in 2017.
For further details contact Laura Duncalf, Producer, Storm in the North firstname.lastname@example.org