Theater: Plays

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

Private Phillip Osbourne (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 20-30, African American, African Descent

Role Description

Private Phillip Osbourne: (Lead) a self-educated, self-possessed Jamaican serving man who has landed in the company through the recommendation of a colonel he served in Jamaica; proud and determined to earn his rightful place as an equal to his fellow soldiers; working-class Jamaican accent and a capella part singing required.

Side: Osbourne & Jones

OSBOURNE
So your mum‘s some rich man‘s cook?

JONES
Yes. But not for long. When I get back all that‘s gonna change.

OSBOURNE
You think so?

JONES
I know so.

(Beat.)

OSBOURNE
That‘s what I‘m hoping.

I never want to set foot in Mrs. Smythe‘s house again. She‘s a kindly enough lady. She‘s the real reason I‘m here, but her husband is a prig. Doesn‘t even know my name, I suspect, always calling me his boy.

JONES
What‘s so wrong with that?

(Beat.)

OSBOURNE
How old are you, Teddy?

(Beat.)

Really, how old are you, not what your papers say.

JONES
Sixteen.

OSBOURNE
Do you think ten years from now you‘ll still be a ”boy?”

JONES
Ten years from now I‘ll probably be a war hero, right?

(Beat. OSBOURNE is touched.)

OSBOURNE
Yes… I‘m sure of it.

You see, I‘ll still be a “boy” when I‘m twenty-six. And I‘ll still be a boy when I‘m thirty-six, and forty-six. I‘ll be a boy until the day I die.

You‘ll come back from this war all dressed up in your uniform, and they‘ll throw you a parade and people will look at you and wonder how many Germans you killed, and how many lives you saved. I‘ll come back, and, if they even let me march in the parade, people will see me in my khaki suit and be confused. Wives will whisper to their husbands “is that a black man?” They‘ll ask “what‘s he doing in uniform?” And, just as confused, the husbands will respond “must have been a shit wallah. Wish we‘d had a latrine boy in my company.”

Or, worse yet, they‘ll convince themselves that I‘m just an unusually dark Indian.

And when your children learn about this war in school, the man you‘re talking to right now, Jonesy, will cease to exist. People will read my name on rosters or, Heaven forbid, a wastage report, and to them Phillip Osbourne will be just another good, white, British soldier, because no one will believe a negro fought the Germans for the liberty of the world. No more than they‘ll believe you and I sat here staring out at a row of blazing Christmas trees in the middle of No Man‘s Land. History is like that. People like me are left up to the imagination of poets. The Othellos of the world will always be somebody‘s boy.

(Beat.)

And you know the funny thing, Jonesy? To that rich Mr. Jeffries, you‘ll always be a boy, too, war hero or no.

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.