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Innaurato, Albert (b. 1948)  
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Perhaps the first element that strikes the reader of Innaurato's plays is the gender ambivalence of his characters. "Sexuality does not move in discrete patterns," fourteen-year-old Puer instructs Dy in Coming of Age, and in general Innaurato makes a carnival of sexual and gender identities, revealing them to be entirely mutable and porous.

At one point in The Idiots Karamazov, the three Karamazov brothers sing a song in the guise of Chekhov's three sisters. In Urlicht, Mother Mary Martha Lazarus's very name incorporates both the male and the female members of the biblical household, and although she wears a traditional habit, she talks and moves like a stevedore.

In Wisdom Amok, Augustine meets the first male accepted as a postulant in an order of nuns, who explains that after he was rejected initially, he filed a gender discrimination suit against the Vatican. In Coming of Age in Soho Bartholemew Dante has been nicknamed "Beatrice," and has been supported by his wife, the first female capo in the Mafia. And in Gus and Al, a sexually aggressive young woman seduces the forty-year-old composer who ejaculates on first being touched; Mahler later anticipates the arrival of his wooer with the giddiness of a sixteen-year-old girl.

Innaurato increases the stakes by setting the action of his plays at the moment when people are on the verge of discovering their sexuality. The action of Gemini, for example, occurs on the weekend of Francis's twenty-first birthday as he debates whether he desires Judith or her younger brother Randy.

Questioning Francis's sexuality, Lucille acknowledges how painful the issue is for Francis Senior: "It's hard on a man to have a for a son. I mean, I guess Fran would rather he was queer than humpbacked or dead, still it's hard." Yet when Francis decides that he will follow Judith and Randy to their summer home and simply wait to see where his affections lie, the household--in a moment of joyful comic exuberance--rushes to support his decision by packing his bag for him and ensuring that he makes the train on time.

"This is what I intended to convey by Francis' choice," Innaurato has explained when questioned about Francis's continued uncertainty; "life is more than labels, and more than merely being accepted by others. The effort must be made to live freely, without a safety net and that is what he sets out to do in the end, period."

"I'm a homosexual who suffers temporary amnesia in the presence of strong-willed ladies," Beatrice admits in Coming of Age in Soho. Much of the comedy of this play results from the fact that Beatrice's fourteen-year-old son Puer is more mature emotionally than thirty-six-year-old Beatrice. Significantly, Beatrice is not the only person in the play who is "coming of age." He takes in a sixteen-year-old runaway named Dy, who is struggling to understand his own sexuality, and dialogues with an eighteen-year-old mafioso-in-training, Danny, who describes himself as being "straight" but with "aberrations."

"That's what I can't understand about this society!" Danny protests. "Straight, gay, who gives a fuck, hanh?" Danny proves as rich an imp of the sexually perverse as Chaucer's Wife of Bath and Innaurato's own Francine. As Danny observes, "it's nice in life when two people get together and hold one another, no matter what their sex is."

Defending his play from the charge by gay activists that he was softening Beatrice's sexuality so as not to offend mainstream theater-goers, Innaurato explains that Beatrice is "probably bisexual, you see. And there's very little tolerance in our society for that. Gay people are often hostile to bisexuality and refuse to believe it exists, but in fact it does."

Just as Innaurato resists any categorization of sexuality, his characters are frustrated to be pigeon-holed or typed by others. In Wisdom Amok, Rex boasts that "I am neither normal nor ab, just me. My longings do not say 'men only,' or 'women only,' or 'only oxen need apply'; my longings take me where they will."

In Ulysses in Traction Emma repeatedly reminds the people with whom she works that because she is big-boned, not conventionally pretty, and has written a feminist version of "Sleeping Beauty" (in which the prince turns out to be gay and the heroine must awaken herself), she is not a lesbian.

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