Once in a Blue Moon

Zabella’s Circle, presented by Arts for Humanity! and the Blue
Moon Players. At Center Stage Theater, Saturday, December 2. Plays
through December 9.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Schwyzer

Moon1.jpgOnce in a while, a show comes along that
somehow circumvents the whole set of assumptions and standards I
use to evaluate art. It’s almost impossible to predict beforehand
whether a show will have that kind of effect, and even after the
fact it can be hard to say why. In this case, though, I can answer
the question of why. This show didn’t need me to sit back and hold
up a yardstick; it called on me to shed my defenses as a viewer and
become present to the performers, who were in a state of full

This is not about abandoning standards when assessing work made
by artists with developmental disabilities, though Karsen Gould’s
Arts for Humanity! does work with performers with various abilities
and 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.

The first half of the evening is a string of theatrical
vignettes, some based in characterization, others in dramatic
physicality. Some of the most effective — and affecting — consisted
of actions as simple as walking and stopping. What makes a
two-minute segment of theater like “Walks I” so compelling is the
complete presence of each performer and the authenticity of the
relationships between people, both of which were realized in
Saturday’s show.

The eponymous second half tells the story of a young girl,
Zabella, who uses the wrong standards to judge her own creativity
until an outsider responds with joy to the drawings she has
discarded. When Zabella stops evaluating her work by external
standards and allows herself the joy of pure creation, she
blossoms. As played by Maria Arroyo, Zabella’s metamorphosis from
wilting wallflower to radiant star is wondrous to behold.

It’s not just the characters in Zabella’s Circle who benefit
when such a shift occurs; the actors experience a similar
catharsis. If you’re open to joy and wonder, Zabella’s Circle will
sweep you away, too.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.