Zabella’s Circle Media, Cast, and Audience Feedback

Local Media Reviews

An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Daily Sound review:

“The theme of Zabella’s Circle – there is creativity living in all of us – is universal in nature, and aptly captures the essence of what Arts for Humanity! is all about. Miss Arroyo has been with the Blue Moon Players going on four years and is a true crowd pleaser. She is exemplary of how what might at first be perceived as a weakness (her disability), is in fact her strength, magnified in the artistic ability and expression she delivers to an audience that comes away with a feeling of “yes I can!” after it’s all said and done.” 

Link to full article: (coming soon)

An excerpt from the Casa Magazine review:

“Here we have the opportunity to be uplifted as we watch and enjoy the infusion of energy and joy and wholehearted commitment this group brings to their work. Act One is…fun surprising, lyrical, growing to a compassionate dance of human yearning and empathy that is very moving. The company is worthy of support, and their efforts are inspiring.”

An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Independent review:

“Once in a while, a show comes along that somehow circumvents the whole set of assumptions and standards I use to evaluate art. [Zabella’s Circle] … is not about abandoning standards when assessing work made by artists with developmental disabilities. This is about what happens when a human being creates something of beauty where there was nothing–creates it for no reason other than the joy of creating. Zabella’s Circle is really a series of small, joyful creations, each one of them the product of play, exploration, and openness among people.”

Responses to Involvement in the Process and Production of Zabella’s Circle

Claudia Orona, Zabella’s Circle cast member and SBCC student: 

“Working with Arts for Humanity! was a wonderful, one of a kind experience. I think the once a week class

prior to the rehearsing and casting of the show is probably the most vital element of your project. As we get together every week to dance and play, we get to know each other, discover our inner talents, express our emotions, develop friendly relationships, and most important, we grow together as an ensemble. The resulting intimacy within the group turns into support as we carry on to the final show, and that is a very important element that I believe to be highly necessary in any performing troupe. Every single blue moon player gets a chance to grow both individually and within the group.

I’ve learned to appreciate in my everyday life and career the talent and artistic potential in every one of us. Every single being has something to give to everybody else’s life. When we embrace our creativity and the beauty of our emotions and ideas, we can share it as our very own unique art and enrich the experiences of those we love, an audience, or even ourselves. I pray that for every time an art program of every sort is challenged by lack of funds, support or any resources, there is a Karsen Gould willing to give back a chance to embrace our artistic selves no matter who we are.

Juanita Netoff an MA, ABD in Communication Arts and a staff member of one of our performers with a developmental disability who came to the majority of our classes and many of our rehearsals:

“The Director Karsen Gould skillfully fans the creativity that sparks each of us into a work of vibrant beauty. Zabella’s Circle is a brilliantly choreographed theater piece that reminds us of what art is for. The play’s flagship theme emerges from a song sung in one of the last vignettes of the first act: the fun and joy we feel when “this little light of mine” is allowed to shine. The stage is set earlier by a series of dance-vignettes that express the dynamic tensions that drive each human actor– angst and joy, feeling alone, yearning for love and for independence, for safety and creativity.

Karsen creates a uniquely nurturing venue in which novices and professionals can collaborate to express themselves and connect artistically with others. Art is never easy, but Zabella’s Circle is worth the enormous energies required to coordinate and direct such diverse skills, sparks, needs, and talents. Sharing the creative process and its artistic product is shown again to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. An inspirational process!”

Jade Hitz, staff member for people with developmental disabilities who was in our class from the beginning and performed in Zabella’s Circle:

“Working with Karsen for this last year has been moving, and motivating; her ability to work with people of all kinds and backgrounds, and to create beautiful works of art from this is truly inspiring. She has given me the gift of combining my two favorite passions, dancing and working with people with mixed abilities.”


Feedback from Audience Members

“Beautiful … such warmth radiating from the cast.”
“This is the most magical theatre/dance troupe in Santa Barbara.”
“I was breathless, I just loved it!”
“Great ensemble with a lot of heart. Motivating and fresh.”
“Very touching and joyful.”
“I simply had to go see it again.”
“I loved the compassion and caring.”
“I was very struck by the positive energy produced by the vignettes, each one left me uplifted.”
“I loved the music, the concept, the talent. It felt very pure of our innate spirit and connectedness.”
“Absolutely magical—loved the costumes, all very talented, thank you one and all for sharing.”
“Beautiful – very well done.”
“Inspiring, comforting, engaging throughout, the music was excellent. Loved the variety and short vignettes.”
“A beautiful range of sentiments. I like the group movement pieces. VERY WARM.”
“So wonderful to see the enjoyment of the casts faces (the special abilities members).”
“The theme was delightful; it evoked emotions of child-like innocence and wonder.”
“Surprising and delightful.”
“Great—amazing to see interaction among the cast. Glad there are things out there for disabled individuals.”
“Inspiring and infectious.”
“Absolutely magical! Loved it!”
“Awesome, one of the best shows I have seen.”
“Bravo, wonderfully surprised!”
“I loved it! It made me happy!”
“It was far out! An excellent show with many esoteric aspects and an incredible commitment by everyone.”
“Great! Very uplifting.”
“It was enchanting as usual!”
“Each time I thought something was my favorite – something else became my next favorite.”
“Fabulous. Everyone shined separately and together.”
“Wonderful, enlightening, joyful. What we all should be doing. Thank you.”
“It brings me to tears. I was very moved by the humanness you were able to portray.