The Dark Goddess Phenom

Wendy Goodwin  as Medusa with Fuchsia in <i>Dark Goddess 2002</i>
Wendy Goodwin as Medusa with Fuchsia in Dark Goddess 2002

Most American theatres will tell you that A Christmas Carol is their annual cash cow. Not the Vortex. That home for boundary-pushing drama has a hit in the form of a ritual exploration of female divinity. Dark Goddess is its name, and director Bonnie Cullum says the show, now in its third run, is smashing all previous box-office records for the theatre and drawing audiences from Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Dallas, and even outside the state. She estimates that by the end of the run this weekend, more than 2,000 people will have seen the show over three years for a total take of $25,000. While those numbers may not be Austin Musical Theatre-caliber, they're huge for an experimental venue like Cullum's. "It's amazing to me that people love it so much," says Cullum, who created Dark Goddess with a group of women performers as a way of honoring goddesses of various cultures. She never really expected it to be a hit, but it has been, with an audience that's grown every year. "It's not your typical theatre audience," she says, noting the support of a "substantial pagan population that doesn't have enough work catered to them" but adding that it also appeals to people who want more than to watch a play. "Because it's a theatre ritual, it's very experiential. The audience is included from the minute they walk in the door. It's almost demanding something of you." It's also demanding of the artists, and while Cullum is thrilled with the box office reception, she's planning to take a year or two off before staging Dark Goddess again. So if you want to be part of the ritual, don't dawdle. Dark Goddess 2002 closes this Sunday, January 27. For information, call 478-LAVA.

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