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Innaurato, Albert (b. 1948)  
 
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Innaurato's characters must learn not to be ashamed of their needs or desires. As Al's future grandfather counsels him in Gus and Al, one's only choice is to "love life no matter how unhappy it makes us. Grab life, . . . hug it to you, fuck it, dance with it, and use it to wipe your tears, or kill yourself and be done with it."

This emphasis on the need to seek emotional and physical satisfaction despite the social censure that one may face drives Innaurato to populate his stage with emotionally flamboyant and arrestingly corpulent characters who overspill traditional bounds.

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Indeed, one might consider Innaurato's canon as an ongoing debate concerning the significance of society's disdain for fatness. In Gemini, while Randy worries about being too skinny, Francis believes himself unlovable because he is fat. Benno is nicknamed "Blimpie" by the kids in the neighborhood and, like Herschel in Gemini, is routinely derogated by his mother for eating so much; Benno remains fat, alone, and ravenously hungry. After Al is transported to 1901 Vienna, he is jeered at the beach one day by a group of soldiers. "Funny," he observes, "I thought loathing fat people was an invention of the New Right in the late Seventies, but it seems to be inborn in humans."

Accepting one's appetites, however, means accepting one's self, whatever shock or disdain one's desires arouse in others. In Gemini Herschel justifies his love of anything having to do with public transportation by explaining that one of the abandoned cars in the city's trolley "graveyard" that he visits regularly seems to stand "straight up as though sayin', like, I'm going to stand here and be myself, no matter what." Herschel will need to develop a similar indifference to majority opinion if he is to survive in a society that finds him abnormal and, at times, downright repulsive.

Likewise, in one of the most outrageous moments in Innaurato's theater, the resplendently porcine Francine in Passione offers an apologia for her size that includes a dismissal of the anemic WASP culture of self-denial and rectitude represented by her rival for Little Tom's affections: "You can kiss my fat ass! . . . I got more body, more sex, more tit, more ass than you ever had, and I'm proud of it! . . . When I move I'm sex on parade. I'm three hundred pounds of pulchritude, I'm a ton of beauty. Look at these legs, look at these thighs. . . . Fuck Weight Watchers! Fuck calorie countin'! . . . Fuck all girdles! [I am fat and I am proud!] I bulge!"

In a body of work focused so heavily upon the need to pursue one's bliss, it is not surprising that eating should be one of the primary actions depicted in Innaurato's plays. In Gemini a table is repeatedly set up in the backyard for a meal in which family, neighbors, and visitors partake, and the action of Passione takes place in the kitchen as Berto and his daughter-in-law cook in anticipation of their extended Italian-American family gathering later that afternoon for a meal.

The abundance of life is suggested by the litanies of food that Innaurato's hosts offer their guests. "Don't be shy," Fran encourages his son's WASP friends who are visiting for breakfast and who are overwhelmed by the selections; "we got here: coffee cake. . . .jelly doughnuts . . . black olives, green olives, pitted black olives--they're easier to digest, chocolate covered doughnuts . . . brebalone, pepperoni, pizzel, biscuits, a fiadone Lucille baked last week and some hot peppers." In Coming of Age in Soho Beatrice's immaturity is suggested by his subsisting on frozen Sara Lee pound cake, Häagan Dazs ice cream, and diet Pepsi.

In Innaurato's early plays, people's attempts to grab life with both hands often render them grotesque. The crazed nuns in Wisdom Amok feast on human flesh, but not before Augustine delivers a homily that attempts to answer the question "Why do we eat?" Benno's grandfather hungers sexually for a neighborhood Catholic schoolgirl, who allows him to fondle her in the park in exchange for his signing over to her his monthly social security check. "I want more--I want more," the old man pants as she refuses to engage in coitus. And no matter how much Benno Blimpie eats, "horrible waves of longing wash over" him because he can find no cure for his hunger except, finally, to eat his own flesh. "I wanted so much," Mary despondently acknowledges in Earth Worms.

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