2 characters. 1M, 1F; 13 pages in length. Approximately 10-15 minutes running time. A comedy set in 1930’s Italy written by Steve Gold.

Bella Napoli is a comedy about an uptight African-American scientist who meets an Austrian woman at a 1930’s Italian railroad station. Hedwig is an assertive woman from the laboratory who has come to collect Ernest from the train station. As they wait for their driver, Ernest becomes uncomfortable with Hedwig’s familiarity with him. She explains that life in Italy is quite different from the intolerance he is accustomed to in America. As the scene progresses, Hedwig manages to disarm Ernest with her humor and scientific knowledge. A charming one act play that deals with gender roles and racism.

Steve Gold is a New York City-based playwright who has authored the full-length plays A Credit to His Race, Soldiers of Science and Wyatt Earp’s Jewish Adventure; one-act plays include Bella Napoli, Alzheimer’s Diary, Wyatt Earp’s Jewish Adventure (one-act version) and Comfort Woman.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

DR. ERNEST JUST: M; an African-American Scientist
HEDWIG SCHLONDORF: F; an Austrian Guide

SETTING: The play is set at a railroad station in Naples, Italy.

TIME: 1934

(Lights up on a small wooden bench placed slightly off center stage, toward stage right. It is January, 1934, a weekday morning, at the naples train station. Ernest just, a thirtyish black man, is seated at the bench, dressed in clothes more appropriate for a cooler climate than the one offered by southern italy: gray suit, white shirt and black tie under a fully buttoned heavy black overcoat. His single piece of luggage, a light brown suitcase, rests besides him on the bench. He is first seen reading a hard-cover book, though he is too restless to pay attention. Just is a scientist who has recently arrived from America to do research.

A few moments follow; he places the still-open book on top of the suitcase. He then looks around the area, trying to pick out the person who is to meet him at the station. His attempt unsuccessful, he picks up the book and continues reading.

A few moments later, Hedwig Schlondorf appears stage right. In her late twenties, she is gangly and has short blond hair and an open, eager expression. She is fluent in english, with a slight german accent that adds to her appeal. Her clothing is functional and attractive: dark blue dress, white knee socks and black walking shoes. Upon entering, she stops briefly, glances at Ernest, smiles expectantly, then approaches him as he reads his book)

HEDWIG
Are you Dr. Just?

ERNEST
(looks up) Yes.

HEDWIG
Hedwig Schlondorf…from the Institute.

(Ernest closes the book and puts it on the suitcase, then stands)

ERNEST
(reticent and rigidly proper) I’ve been waiting.

(she offers her hand; he hesitates)

HEDWIG
Not long, I trust.

(he then takes her hand)

ERNEST
No…I, I was taking in the sites.

HEDWIG
There’s much to take in. How is your Italian?

ERNEST
I did some practicing during the voyage.

HEDWIG
Most of us speak English at the Institute. (sweet smile) If you need an interpreter, however, my rates are remarkably cheap.

ERNEST
(humorless) I’ll bear that in mind. Shall we go?

HEDWIG
(embarrassed giggle) I’m afraid we must wait here a bit longer.

ERNEST
Is something wrong?

HEDWIG
Our driver, Mario, is not available at the present time.

ERNEST
Where is he?

HEDWIG
He’s running a few errands for his wife.

ERNEST
He simply left you here?

HEDWIG
He asked me if he could go and I said he could. I thought he’d be back by now.

ERNEST
Is he coming back?

HEDWIG
Goodness, yes…at least, I think so…yes, he’s definitely coming back…I hope.

ERNEST
(beat; dubious) Me, too.

HEDWIG
Please don’t hold it against me—or Mario.

ERNEST
I’m sure he’s a fine fellow…and I’m sure you’re a fine…woman.

HEDWIG
Mario has a sterling reputation.

ERNEST
Does he have a watch?

HEDWIG
I never noticed, but he’ll be here—rest assured.

ERNEST
Very well. I shall rest assured…I have no choice.

HEDWIG
The strange thing is, Mario does nothing all day except read the newspaper and eat spaghetti. But everyone likes him.

ERNEST
He doesn’t seem to be very efficient.

HEDWIG
(easy laugh) You expect efficiency in Italy? 

ERNEST
I don’t know what to expect.

HEDWIG
If you want efficiency, you’re in the wrong country.

ERNEST
That possibility just occurred to me.

HEDWIG
May I sit?

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