UNION JACKIE is the story of the diligent and humane customs officer Jackie Pullman, whose day is turned upside down when she discovers a lorry full of illegal immigrants. The people claim to be refugees, but Jackie follows protocol and turns the lorry around. The refugees use every ounce of their dwindling energy to oppose her decision: and it’s then that Jackie discovers, these people are starving. In desperation, Jackie gives one child her lunch... and she is stunned to find that her single lunchbox feeds them all. UNION JACKIE is a simple and powerful revelation of the mystery that giving things away makes us stronger: “fruits are the good acts we do to other people”.
I am using the story of the feeding of the 5000 with five loaves and two fish, which appears in each of the four gospels. This story has captivated me since I first rehearsed it for performance at my Catholic primary school. The aim of my adaptation is to share the sense of wonder that I felt on first hearing the story - what I would call an impression of “miraculous abundance”. I have only come close to experiencing this impression again when I have made personal sacrifices. I want to show a character experiencing the essence of Jesus’ teaching through action. It is crucial to show that every ordinary person has immense power to improve the lives of others. The ongoing refugee crises around the world present an urgent contemporary setting. Jackie Pulman, a humane but rule-following customs officer, is essentially well-meaning, as are we all, but it takes an extraordinary situation - a lorry-full of starving refugees - to force her to risk her job by taking even a small risk. Jackie learns by direct experience that “fruits are the good acts we do to other people”; this moment changes her life forever.