THEATRE workers spent five hours in police cells after staging a prank using the Nazi flag from their production of the Sound of Music.
The technicians used the swastika flag as a “joke” in their demonstration against a “bullying” local council.
But when Fife Police spotted the Nazi symbol on their CCTV system, officers swooped on the group and led them away in handcuffs.
The workers from the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline, angrily claim Fife Council financially supports its own theatres while refusing to give them a penny.
The theatre has just finished its run of The Sound of Music, which features a swastika flag when the Von Trapp family perform at a Nazi event in Austria.
But the technicians’ decision to use the flag as a “satirical” joke during a demonstration outside the city chambers in Dunfermline backfired spectacularly.
Four workers, among them Bill Fletcher, the owner of the theatre, spent a combined total of 19 hours in the local police cells after officers failed to see the funny side.
Mr Fletcher said: “The flags were left lying in the theatre following our performance of The Sound of Music.
“We saw an opportunity to poke fun at the council and took it. These are not banned images and we were using the flag in a satirical fashion.”
Referring to his detention, he added: “I have never seen the police act so fast.
“It was a complete over-reaction by the council as no crime had actually been committed. It was terrible overkill.
“It’s a great pity that our attempt to have a joke at the expense of Fife Council, in retaliation for years of bullying suffered at their hands, has turned out to have serious consequences for our staff.”
He was held for two-and-a-half hours while his colleagues spent over five hours each in the cells. All were eventually released without charge.
Mr Fletcher said being detained at the police station was “horrendous”.
“We did it in the morning when the town was quiet. The whole incident to take the photo lasted 30 seconds. No complaint was made by the public.
“It was probably not the ideal thing to do, but it got over how we felt.
“It was horrendous. It was freezing cold. The whole process is designed to humiliate you.”
“Maybe it wasn’t the most well thought out prank, but we didn’t deserve to be treated like that,” he added.
Mr Fletcher claims the council have been bullying workers at the theatre since it first opened six years ago.
He said: “The council view us as competition to places like Carnegie Hall and the Lochgelly Centre. We are unsupported by the council and are one of only two theatres in Scotland to receive no council support.
“We at the Alhambra Theatre over the last six years, have had nothing but harassment from Fife Council.“We’ve brought a theatre to town and they do everything in their power to cause us grief.”
A spokesman from Fife Constabulary, said: “We attended an incident and a number of people were interviewed in relation to it.
“It was established that no crime had been committed.”
A spokeswoman at Fife Council said the council was not involved with the police action taken yesterday.
Steve Grimmond, Executive Director Environment, Enterprise & Communities at the council said: “We recognise and value what the Alhambra Theatre brings to Dunfermline and enjoy a good working relationship and regular contact with them.
“It would be disappointing if they felt they were unable to discuss any issues and concerns directly. It goes without saying that we are always happy to work with the theatre to resolve any issues they may have.”