Review: "The Genesis of Regeneration" Spins a Hilarious Yarn

The Genesis of Regeneration (Genesi del rigenero)

Written and performed by Beppe Allocca

Directed by Beppe Allocca and Roberta Provenzani

Presented at Casa Belvedere on April 30, 2024, at 7 pm; at Culture Lab LIC on May 5, 2024, at 7:30 pm; and at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò at NYU on May 10, 2024, at 8 pm

Beppe Allocca. Photo by Caterina Ciabatti.
A number of theatrical productions might teach you something while still making you laugh, but far fewer of them will also leave you wanting to buy a piece of convertible knitwear. Beppe Allocca's solo show The Genesis of Regeneration (Genesi del rigenero) proves a triple threat in this regard. Allocca introduces himself as a theatrist artisan, the first term marking his theatrical endeavors and the second his production of knitwear using "regenerated" yarn. As it delves into and contextualizes the process of that production, the fantastically entertaining Genesis of Regeneration–part of the 2024 In Scena! Italian Theater Festival, which runs from April 29th to May 13th at multiple venues throughout the five boroughs–provides perhaps the most fun you can have learning about textile waste and recycling.

With a fast-paced delivery and some humorous self-aggrandizement, Allocca traces the current regeneration industry (he wryly notes that the term regeneration is more attention-grabbing than meaningful) to the mid-nineteenth-century cenciaioli, or rag-pickers, in his native city of Prato in Tuscany, the residents of which are recurring targets of some good-natured mockery. He then looks back even further, to Genesis (hence the show's title) and other books of the Bible, giving him a chance to play God and Moses as well as Beppe, who, for instance, receives 11 commandments of textile regeneration before reducing them to 10. The tone remains comic throughout, even as the show touches on mislabeling, exploited labor, the huge amount of textile waste, bolstered by the rise of so-called fast fashion (some companies are consigned to hell by name in a segment enacting a sartorial Last Judgment), the failure of companies to use pure fibers than can be regenerated, and more: in short, as it is introduced in the show's Genesis segment, the beast Consumerism.

The production does not sugarcoat its depressing facts, but it does often make them into punchlines (including that the development of regeneration should really be attributed to avarice). These punchlines, along with the rest of the show, acquire a little extra punch from the fact that Allocca is an incredibly charming performer (and very well-dressed!). The Genesis of Regeneration will both utterly entertain you and make you think twice the next time you're contemplating buying an artificial fiber mix–giving its humor, one might say, a second life as awareness.

-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards

More from the 2024 In Scena! Italian Theater Festival:

News: In Scena! Italian Theater Festival NY 2024 Announces Performance Schedule and Awards

Review: "Help Wanted" Needs No Help Making Feminist Motherhood Funny

Review: "Sciara - Prima c'agghiorna" Poignantly Presents a Little-Known Part of Women's History

Review: "The Great Magic" Casts an Entrancing Spell

Review: "Opera Buffa!" Orchestrates an Extended Aria of Absurdity

Review: The Barbarity of Prison Extends Beyond Its Walls in "The Visit"

Review: "Like a Little Grain of Sand" Explores an Enormous Injustice


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