Theater of the Absurd?

August 17, 1993

THE people who thought up the name Rhinos for a possible National Football League team in Baltimore didn't know, forgot or didn't care about Eugene Ionesco.

He's the Romania-born playwright who in 1958 wrote a play, "Rhinoceros," about people who turn into rhinoceroses that blindly follow the leader except for only one individualist.

Told with humor and weird characters, the play is a metaphorical attack at fascism and how people yield to its terrors by becoming rhinos.

When the play became a movie in 1974, Zero Mostel, right, played John, who humorously turns into a pachyderm before the audience's eyes.

Gene Wilder remains the lone holdout determined not to follow the herd and fascism.

Some might say the name fits a game like football after all; Ionesco's play was an example of the school of "Theater of the Absurd."

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