Art school students are set to explore life and death in a new uplifting show coming to Hartlepool

Hartlepool art school students are set to perform an uplifting tale about life, death and dancing to take to the stage.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 2:18 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 3:26 pm
Acting students Juho Hankela and Emily Payne rehearsing for Buckets

A play that swings through a kaleidoscope of different scenes touching on life and death is being staged by acting students at The Northern School of Art.

Buckets by Adam Barnard, which is being performed at the school’s Hartlepool campus theatre on Thursday, May 9, and Friday, May 10, provides an innovative collection of observations on life, longings, lists, lusts and mortality.

The Northern School of Art's Acting for Stage and Screen programme leader Jonny Bussell

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Performed by students from The Northern School of Art BA (Hons) Acting for Stage and Screen degree course, this production is unique in featuring two new scenes that have been especially written by the playwright.

Offering a whistle-stop look at a world of sadness and happiness, illness and health, youth and experience, kissing and crying, singing and dying, the play builds to a unique perspective on a universal dilemma: How do you deal with the fact time always runs out and what ultimately makes your heart beat?

The play features a live band, which gives some of the school’s multi-talented acting students the chance to show off their musical abilities alongside their acting prowess.

Juho Hankela, who hails originally from Urjala in Finland, has enjoyed embracing the challenge: “I’m using a range of skills throughout this production including my musical capabilities in playing guitar as well as a variety of acting abilities learned throughout the course such as expressing emotion through voice and physicality.

Acting student Juho Hankela rehearsing for Buckets at The Northern School of Art

“I found the depth of this piece really helped push my skillset to the next level and improve me as an actor. In the show I play the rhythm guitarist of the band as well as one of the employees of 'Living Vessels Incorporated'.”

Juho, who signed up for the school’s acting degree course after being “impressed by our tutor’s vision for the future of the course and the school’s ambition in making it happen” has his sights set on a future in acting by “working on improving as an actor and human being and making connections for the future.”

He offers an intriguing summary of the play, saying: “It's got just about everything you could wish for: a live band, rock 'n' roll, romance, bungee jumping and the answer to one of the only true mysteries to the human experience.”

Fellow acting student Emily Payne, from Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, says she has a unique role in the production: “I play the lead singer in a band aptly named ‘The Buckets’ that overlooks the rest of the action that’s happening onstage. There will be moments that me and my ‘angels’ will guide lost people with their lives.

Promotion poster for the show.

“The play is relatable to all ages and no doubt there’ll be a moment in there that people will individually connect with - and the band also sound pretty good!”

The Programme Leader of The Northern School of Art’s Acting for Stage and Screen degree course, Jonny Bussell, said that the students have enjoyed preparing for the show.

“The play is written without characters so the actors have been free to be really creative and it’s been really exciting to have had scenes written just for us by the playwright Adam Barnard. It’s also a really fun show.”

Jonny added that the performance of Buckets is another collaborative effort across a range of the specialist creative courses offered by the school.

He said: "It’s incredible what skills we can draw on.

"The set, benches, backdrops and signs have all been made by our production design students, costume design students have created the actors’ outfits, photography students and graphic design students have made the publicity materials and the tech and sound for the show is being done by film, TV and theatre students. It’s invaluable experience for everyone involved.”

Buckets by Adam Barnard is being staged at The Northern School of Art's theatre at Church Square, Hartlepool, TS247EX on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 May at 7 pm. The show’s running time is 2 hours including an interval.

Tickets are available on a ‘Pay What You Decide’ basis and can be booked by visiting