Theater: Plays

Production: 'In Fields Where They Lay' (See all 5 roles)

Lt. Reginald Jeffries (Lead)

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Production Details

The Dreamscape Theatre is casting five male roles (one Jamaican, four English) for its upcoming production of the play "In Fields Where They Lay" by Ricardo Pérez González, directe...more

Get more details on 'In Fields Where They Lay', including pay, union details, full description, rehearsal & production dates & locations, script sides, other roles, and more.

Seeking

Male, ages 24-34, Caucasian

Role Description

Lt. Reginald Jeffries: (Lead) a young, Oxford-educated, upper-class officer, he is newly in command of this company of men; though he is set apart from them by his status and class, he has a certain paternal feeling toward them; determined to do his duty to King and country at any cost; RP dialect.

Jeffries Monologue

(JEFFRIES addressing the men, who stand at attention.)

JEFFRIES
There have been reports that men along the line believe that Christmas will bring about some kind of a respite from the fighting. While such feelings are... perfectly understandable, it is my duty to see to it that my men are suffering from no such delusions. While you, as good Christian men, may feel some stirring of holiday spirit, I assure you that the Bosche does not. Our best intelligence supposes they might be planning some kind of a surprise attack, and the fact they‘ve ceased shelling is designed to lull us into a false sense of security. We are to remain vigilant, and no one is to be found away from his post. Understood?

MEN
Sir, yes, sir!

JEFFRIES
(beat) I understand that tomorrow is, indeed, Christmas. I promise you it will be observed with all due diligence, but by no means is it to be mistaken for a day off. As long as Fritz is over there, there is no such thing as a day off.

The evening will see some... slackening in your duties, but if you are assigned to a watch, do not think for a moment that you can let your guard down. The barbarians opposite violated the neutrality of a nation of defenseless farmers, a neutrality their Kaiser agreed to before raping its women and its land. Do not think for a moment that the sanctity of Christmas means a damned thing to them. If you doubt me for an instant, look to that wire, look to Andersen, and ask him about the Christian charity of the Hun. Are we understood?

MEN
Sir, yes, sir!

JEFFRIES
The rest of the line be damned. Rumors be damned. You will do your duty. Understood?

ALL
Sir, yes, sir!

JEFFRIES
Now back to your assignments. And men... (returning the men's salute) Happy Christmas.

(Beat.)

About your business!

Side: Jeffries & Woodward

JEFFRIES
Woodward, we‘ve had some unexpected news: the joint attack with the Warwickshires is to be sooner than anticipated. We won‘t have all of our replacements in by then. Those two... boys were an unexpected windfall, if you can call such.... young blood a windfall, but we‘re still short several men.

WOODWARD
There‘s always Osbourne, sir.

JEFFRIES
Osbourne?

WOODWARD
The duckboard harrier you just sent off.

(Beat.)

JEFFRIES
The cockney sense of humor never flags, does it, Woodward?

WOODWARD
I wasn’t joking, sir.

JEFFRIES
You can‘t seriously be contemplating giving that boy a gun? Don‘t you read Darwin?

WOODWARD
Sir, point of fact, if he was going to kill us, he would‘ve done it already. I caught him sneaking in some target practice during training; he‘s a good eye.

JEFFRIES
And you didn‘t report him to Drill Instructor Schillings? Bad form, Woodward.

WOODWARD
Sir, I‘ve fought alongside Africans before, and never once did they forget which direction to shoot. It‘s a simple enough thing to remember.

JEFFRIES
(dismissing the situation) We‘ll discuss this later, Woodward, there are more pressing matters at hand. You‘re with me.

(JEFFRIES and WOODWARD exit.)

Synopsis

In Fields Where They Lay — Synopsis
by Ricardo Pérez González

It was the war to end all wars. It was a Christmas like no other. These are the men that made history:

The First World War, 1914: a troop of British soldiers joins the battle on the Western Front: Thomas Pfeiffer, a family man just trying to get back to his wife and child; Harold Dietrich, estranged from his family and hateful of his German heritage; Teddy Jones and Giles Anderson, two underage friends who enlisted together, one to avoid being branded a coward, the other to protect him; and Philip Osbourne, who battles the racism of the time to become one of the first soldiers of African descent to be sent into combat.

The trenches are a nightmarish land of maggots and muck, the earth a churning mud pit in which the men wallow like pigs. The embittered Dietrich, the shortest of stature and the surliest of the bunch, becomes the troop whipping boy, while 16-year-old Jones and Anderson are put through the hazing expected for young soldiers. Gradually Osbourne, an outcast, an exotic “other,” becomes integrated into the corps of men. Their first battle leaves the troop dispirited, as they lose Anderson in a pointless skirmish in No Man’s Land, the area between the British and German trenches.

As they each cope with the loss of one of their number, Christmas Eve catches them unawares. A magical frost hardens the earth, making it possible for the men to stand on solid ground for the first time in months. Presents from home soften their hearts.

Suddenly, a glow lights up the German trenches. First one, then another, then another. Through the distorted view of a trench scope, the men make out the luminescent outlines of Christmas trees, hundreds of them, adorning the German trenches. Sounds begin wafting across No Man’s Land. German voices raised in song: Stille nacht, heilige nacht...Silent Night. The British soldiers join their German counterparts in song, and from the music a short-lived truce is born, sealed by the broken English of a German soldier: “we no shoot, you no shoot.”

The impromptu truce transforms the men. Osbourne, while knowing history will forget men like him who served in the Great War, has gained acceptance among his peers. Pfeiffer begins to believe he will make it home in one piece, and Jones begins to grow into a young man. Only the self-loathing Dietrich resists, and it’s he who fires the shot that signals the end of peace. It’s a shot that will cost millions of lives, and it’s his brothers in arms who will pay the highest price.