Series 1, Episode 6: Red Indian in Theatre
SIOUX INDIAN Eric Idle
MAN Graham Chapman:
HOUSE MANAGER Michael Palin
(The front stalls of a theatre. It is a first night – a lot of people in dinner jackets etc. About three rows back there is a spare seat. A general rustle of programmes, chocolates and theatrical murmurs. Suddenly a Sioux Indian enters, clad only in loin cloth, wearing war paint and with a single strip of hair in the middle of his head and feather. He carries a bow and a quiver of arrows. He settles into the empty seat. The Man next to him shifts uneasily and looks straight ahead. The Indian looks his
neighbour up and down a couple of times.)
Indian: (always speaking with full gestures)Me heap want see play. Me want play start heap soon.
(Man next to him nods.)
Man: Yes well. I think it .., begins in a minute.
Indian: Me heap big fan Cicely Courtneidge.
Man: (highly embarrassed) Yes … she’s very good.
Indian: She fine actress … she make interpretation heap subtle … she heap good diction and timing … she make part really live for Indian brave.
Man: Yes … yes … she’s marvelous…
Indian: My father – Chief Running Stag – leader of mighty Redfoot tribe – him heap keen on Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray.
Man: (unwillingly drawn in) Do you go to the theatre a lot?
Indian: When moon high over prairie … when wolf howl over mountain, when mighty wind roar through Yellow Valley, we go Leatherhead Rep – block booking, upper circle – whole tribe get it on 3/6d each.
Man: That’s very good.
Indian: Stage Manager, Stan Wilson, heap good friend Redfoot tribe. After show we go pow-wow speakum with director, Sandy Camp, in snug bar of Bell and Compasses. Him mighty fine director. Him heap famous.
Man: Oh – I don’t know him myself.
Indian: Him say Leatherhead Rep like do play with Redfoot tribe.
Man: Oh that’s good…
Indian: We do ‘Dial M for Murder’. Chief Running Elk – him kill buffalo with bare hands, run thousand paces when the sun is high – him play Chief Inspector Hardy – heap good fine actor.
Man: You do a lot of acting do you?
Indian: Yes. Redfoot tribe live by acting and hunting.
Man: You don’t fight any more?
Indian: Yes! Redfoot make war! When Chief Yellow Snake was leader, and Mighty Eagle was in land of forefather, we fight Pawnee at Oxbow Crossing. When Pawnee steal our rehearsal copies of ‘Reluctant Debutante’ we kill fifty Pawnee – houses heap full every night. Heap good publicity.
(The lights start to dim. Auditorium chatter subsides.)
Man: (visibly relieved) I think he’s about to start now, thank God for that.
(They both look towards stage. The overture starts.)
Indian: (leaning across) Paleface like eat chocolate? (proffers box)
Man: No, thank you very much.
Indian: (helping himself) Hmmm – crunchy frog – heap good.
(Cut to stage, house manager walks out in front of tabs. He is a very nice young man)
House Manager: Ladies and gentlemen. Before the play starts, I would like to apologize to you all, but unfortunately Miss Cicely Courtneidge is unable to appear, owing to…
(He is suddenly struck in the chest by first one arrow and then another. He crumbles to the ground revealing half a dozen in his back. The air is filled with war-whoops and drum beats and screams.)