Recyling Pain is a new play by Ron Jenkins commissioned by the Center for the Arts with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It was performed as part of Wesleyan's 2011 Feet to the Fire Program. It was written in memory of Deb Czarkeski while Jenkins was in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Center in Bellagio, Italy. Recycling Pain is based on interviews conducted with participants of Jenkins' prison education program and is inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy and the Department of Justice Report on the Federal Prison Industry's electronic recycling program. The play serves as a reminder of the importance of conserving and recycling the human resources in our jails, which is no less important than the challenge of conserving and recycling the natural resources of the planet. On September 28, 2011, a reading from this commissioned work was performed by Saundra Duncan, Lynda Gardner, and Deborah Ranger, three formerly incarcerated women, with music by Ala Faller '12. The reading was followed by a panel discussion and question and answer session with audience members. Jenkins has worked in prison systems in Italy, Indonesia, and the United States. He is a Professor of Theater at Wesleyan University.
Recycling Pain has since been presented at the prison arts conference at Brown University on November 13, 2011 and at Harvard University’s conference on race, class, and education called Disrupting the Discourse: Discussing the “Undiscussable’’, March 2-3, 2012.