Theater: Plays

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

Private Thomas Pfeiffer (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 22-32, Caucasian

Role Description

Private Thomas Pfeiffer: (Lead) the definition of family man, Pfeiffer has a wife, Catherine, and a newborn, Maggie, back in England; a crack shot, he is a sniper for the British; his character is loosely based on Harry Patch, last surviving British veteran of WWI; Cockney accent.

Side: Pfeiffer & Dietrich

(DIETRICH and PFEIFFER on sentry duty.)

DIETRICH
Did you hear/ that?

PFEIFFER
Hushhhh.

(PFEIFFER looks through the perisher. Beat.)

Probably corpse rats. Woke up with one on my face last night; it was going for my eyes.

(The scrape is heard again, along with the faint sound of a hammer against steel.)

DIETRICH
That‘s no rat.

PFEIFFER
Wiring fatigue. They must be reinforcing their line.

DIETRICH
Can you see them?

PFEIFFER
Not clearly.

DIETRICH
But you can see them?

PFEIFFER
You should report back to Woodward, let him know there‘s movement.

DIETRICH
Shoot them.

(Beat.)

PFEIFFER
They‘re not any kind of a threat/ what good is—

DIETRICH
They‘re the enemy. Shoot them.

(Beat.)

PFEIFFER
They‘re not attacking; I‘m not going to shoot men out on/ wiring detail.

DIETRICH
Why not?

PFEIFFER
I‘m not a bloody assassin/ that‘s why not.

DIETRICH
Isn‘t that what you do all day out there? You‘re a sniper/ after all.

PFEIFFER
I‘m not a sniper, I‘m a sniper hunter.

DIETRICH
What‘s the difference? Either way you‘ve killed a man, lucky bastard.

PFEIFFER
I haven‘t had to kill anyone.

(DIETRICH stares at him.)

DIETRICH
I‘m sorry?

PFEIFFER
I haven‘t had to kill anyone.

(Beat.)

You take out a man‘s knee and he‘s useless, they‘ll send him home. It‘s like a fucking Christmas gift if you ask me.

DIETRICH
You‘re having me on…

PFEIFFER
He‘s as good as dead for what we need, inn'e?

DIETRICH
You‘re serious… you bloody coward…

PFEIFFER
Coward? What the hell is wrong with you?

DIETRICH
Wrong with/ me?

PFEIFFER
Yes, what the hell is wrong with you?

DIETRICH
What do you think we're here/ for?

PFEIFFER
I know why/ we're here!

DIETRICH
You‘re some bloody conchie, aren‘t you? You stinking traitors/ make me sick!

PFEIFFER
A conchie? Who the hell do you think you are with your sister/ back home protesting—

DIETRICH
A proper British soldier,/ that‘s who—

PFEIFFER
A proper British soldier who‘d shoot a man/ out on wiring detail—

DIETRICH
Yes, a proper British soldier who knows where his loyalties lie, Herr Pfeiffer.

(DIETRICH raises his gun.)

Shoot them.

(Beat.)

You will fire, Private.

PFEIFFER
(extending his rifle to DIETRICH) You do it, Private.

(Beat. DIETRICH lowers his weapon.)

DIETRICH
(exasperated) Bloody coward! We come here and we sit for weeks in our own shit, we're soaked through and numb, dodging bloody death from above, we're being picked off like rats without even facing the Germans and you have the chance to kill one of theirs and you can‘t/ do it?

PFEIFFER
That makes two of us,/ doesn‘t it?

DIETRICH
Shut it!

PFEIFFER
That‘s not a soldier‘s job,/ Dietrich.

DIETRICH
(mocking him, his volume rising) A soldier‘s job? What's a soldier's job? Tell me—tell me, Tom! What is a soldier's job? I didn't come here to die drowned in slime and choking on my own blood at the bottom of some shithole without ever once seeing my enemy. I came here to kill or be killed in battle. This is a war, and if you can't kill someone, if you can't look a man in the face and pull the trigger, you have no reason to be here. Go home or shoot yourself, because it amounts to the same thing.

Side: Andersen & Pfeiffer

PFEIFFER
How old are you boys, anyhow? Thirteen, fourteen?

ANDERSEN
Our papers say we‘re nineteen and that‘s good enough.

PFEIFFER
And how is it you came to know how to read?

ANDERSEN
They teach it in school, you know.

PFEIFFER
(taking out a letter) Well, learned one, would you do me the favor of reading this, one more time?

ANDERSEN
Not again,/ Thomas.

PFEIFFER
Just one more time before the sun sets, and that‘ll be/ it.

ANDERSEN
That‘ll be five times, is what/ it‘ll be.

(Beat.)

Alright... but just a bit of it. And you have to let me borrow your hunting rifle for target practice.

PFEIFFER
Fine. The bit about Maggie and my sweater then.

ANDERSEN
Father Pickering... blah, blah... Mary Toffet... blah, blah, blah... Maggie, Maggie, Maggie... and... ah, yes... Maggie.

―Remember that old sweater of yours, the one you can‘t wear anymore because it‘s so full of holes, the grey one you wore the first winter you came courting? Just after you left I set about unraveling it; I hope you don‘t mind... my love. I used the good bits of yarn to knit the snuggest little sweater for our dear... sweet Maggie—

Thomas, I really can‘t do this anymore it‘s just... too/ gushing.

PFEIFFER
Come on, Andersen, you‘re ruining it.

ANDERSEN
I‘m not ruining it.

PFEIFFER
Yes you are!

ANDERSEN
And just how am I ruining/ it?

PFEIFFER
You‘re ruining the picture!

ANDERSEN
What are you talking about, Thomas?

PFEIFFER
The picture! The pict—you know! How you see it in your head, and hear her voice in the words when you... you know.

(Beat.)

ANDERSEN
That‘s a bit queer,/ Tom.

PFEIIFER
Quit faffing about, you know what I mean. When you get a letter,/ don‘t you—

ANDERSEN
I don‘t get letters.

PFEIFFER
What do you mean, you don‘t get letters? Course you get letters. Everyone gets—

ANDERSEN
I don‘t.

(Beat.)

Don‘t look at me like that; you pegged it, after all. Someone had to look after that nit over there, didn‘t they? On his way to school, some woman on the street calls him a stay-at-home coward and he shoots off straight to the recruitment office; was all I could do to keep up with him. No time to tell me mum and better she not worry. Couldn‘t let him go off to face the likes of you alone, could I?

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.