Belfast Telegraph

Anti-war actors held after bullets found in denim jacket bought on eBay

Ulster peace play members quizzed as airport staff recover ammo from outfit

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

It's a bizarre case of life imitating art.

Members of a Northern Ireland production company staging a show on war atrocities got the shock of their lives as they were arrested in an airport after it was discovered one of their costumes was lined with bullets.

As the excited team of crew and cast of The Conquest of Happiness boarded a flight on the first leg of their European tour on Monday to Sarajevo, the last thing they expected was to be hauled off the plane by security.

But that is exactly what happened as it was discovered that a 1970s-style denim jacket which they had sourced off eBay had 12 small bullets in the lining.

In the unexpected twist, four members of the production team – including co-creator of the show and artistic director of Prime Cut Productions, Emma Jordan – were placed under arrest and escorted from Belfast City Airport.

They then spent the majority of Monday answering questions in a bid to prove their innocence over the offending jacket, before they were later released at 4.30pm.

A spokesman for the group said: "You can imagine their surprise and horror when this transpired.

"The whole thing is really bizarre, because there are so many explosions and deaths in the show it's really ironic that something like this stopped them.

"The interesting element is that the nature of the show is very much looking at the nature of war and then there is something like this tripping them up as they are about to set off on their European tour," he added.

"It is understood that while they are shaken by the ordeal, the irony of being arrested for having ammunition whilst touring with an anti-war show is not lost on them," said the spokesman.

Around 15 people were travelling with the company and they could barely believe their eyes as they saw their co-workers being taken off the plane and escorted by four security members.

The spokesman added: "The bullets were quite small and there were around 12 of them, but you wouldn't have noticed them unless it went through an X-ray machine."

The denim jacket is worn during the play by Toomebridge actor Dermot Hickson, who portrays a war journalist who reports on the horrors of war and genocide from Vietnam to Srebrenica and Rwanda.

Little did he or any of the team know, however, just how authentic his costume was.

Mr Hickson was not among the four people who were arrested.

The four members of the production team were released from Musgrave Street police station without charge and the group are now continuing their journey to Sarajevo to join the production for its presentation at the Mess International Festival in Mostar.

Having enjoyed a successful stint as part of Londonderry's UK City of Culture, the show is set to return to Belfast as part of the Belfast Festival at Queen's at the end of October.

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