Recycling Pain, A New Play by Ron Jenkins

Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts will premiere Recycling Pain, a play by Professor of Theater Ronald Jenkins, on Wednesday (TOMORROW), September 28, 2011 at 7pm in CFA Hall, located on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown. The play will be performed by Saundra DuncanLynda Gardner, and Deborah Ranger, three formerly incarcerated women who worked on the project with Mr. Jenkins when they were still imprisoned. The reading will include music by Ala Faller ’12, and will be followed by a question and answer period at the end of the performance that will include an environmental lawyer and a prison rights advocate. Admission to the reading is free and open to the public.

Recycling Pain is based on Mr. Jenkins’s work over the past four years, including interviews with incarcerated men and women in Italy, Indonesia and the United States who were inspired by the poetry of Dante’s Divine Comedy to reflect on the consequences of wasting energy. Their observations are reminders that the importance of conserving and recycling the human resources in our jails is no less important than the challenge of conserving and recycling the natural resources of the planet. Recycling Pain was also compiled from the Department of Justice Report on the Federal Prison Industry’s electronic recycling program.

  • WHEN?: Wednesday (TOMORROW), Sept. 28th @ 7 pm
  • WHERE?: CFA Hall
  • COST?: Free!

More after the jump!

Mr. Jenkin’s goal of the project is to challenge stereotypes about incarcerated individuals, the criminal justice system, and Dante’s poem, which is not just about suffering in the Inferno, but is a story about a journey out of hell to heaven, a path that many incarcerated individuals are struggling to undertake themselves.

One Italian participatant described his experience in the program as follows:

People who leave prison are encapsulated in a shell of anger and have thousands of reasons for taking revenge for everything that they have suffered, but theater helps you to break out of that crust of revenge, to break free of that anger in a way that enables you to have a more positive relation with people and society. Inside prison I had the experience of transformation in the theater that prepared me for the kind of transformation I had to make when I left prison.

Recycling Pain is being presented in memory of Deb Czarneski.

Mr. Jenkins was commissioned by the Center for the Arts to write Recycling Pain based on his work in connection with the annual environmental awareness program Feet to the Fire, and this year’s theme of Fueling the Future. The work was written with the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Creative Campus Initiative grant to the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University, and written in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Center in Bellagio, Italy.

For more information about Ronald Jenkins, please click here.

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