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MERLYN'S LIGHTBOX: Yours truly personally checked out the most controversial activity in the shops and sideshows area -- a back-to-the-60s light experiment in a tent. "It's a light portal to the past, present and future," said the Victoria-based 58-year-old Peter Tongue, who controls the activity. I lined up with three 20-somethings, signed the waiver (scariest part of the experience) and stepped into the silver box tent for a three-minute light "experience." You MUST close your eyes, but the light penetrates your lids. I saw brilliant changing light patterns and felt happily rooted to the chair, but a bit light-headed for 10 minutes after. "It feels like you're high on a drug" said Emily Brooks, a frank type in the corrections field. It's really colourful and your brain can't quite keep up to what's going on." Said Svitlana Maluzynsky, a recent education grad. ''I recommend it. I saw shooting stars and swirling pools." Clothing designer Lennard Taylor stepped out and said, "I felt connected to the earth. It was like a kaleidoscope times a billion. My body felt moved to chant." Yep, it's that '60s feeling alright. . . .The lightbox is a companion piece to a spoof on British rockers called The Saints of Rock and Roll at Venue 25, the West End Cultural Centre, performed nightly at 8:30 p.m. until July 28. Tongue says he's into spiritual healing and hosts an online radio show called Awakening to the Conscious Co-Creation on "I have 150,000 listeners a month," he declares.


VOLUNTEER ANNIVERSARIES: Previous to set-up madness, Fringe organizers held a massive pizza party for volunteers at Old Market Square. "This year we're at 913 volunteers, up from 730-740 last year," said McEwen. "And we have 100 10-year volunteers and nine 25-year volunteers we will honour with gifts on closing night in recognition of all their support."


FRINGE AND RELIGION: Shows find practice areas where they can, and budgets are minimal or zip. The Crossroads Players, staging the raunchy Cabaret musical, found a Winnipeg church to secretly take them in. Says the group's Mitch Krohn, "The girls felt a little uncomfortable at the beginning dancing in costume." We're talking merry widow corsettes and garters, folks. "There's nothing quite so odd as a group of women dancing around in lingerie with a giant cross hanging over their heads. Mind you, if churches did this, I'm sure the attendance would increase." . . .


GOD'S NAME IS WILL? What's in a name? The two men who play God in the fringe show Almost An Evening are actors Will O'Donnell and Will Jordan. "Jordan has a big actors voice so he got to be the God Who Judges and I'm a quieter guy so I'm the God Who Loves. O'Donnell said it took a while opening night to loosen up the crowd at this dark comedy "It's hard to know if it's okay to laugh at somebody sitting and waiting in Hell." But once people got the hang of it, "they started belly-laughing."


BEST LINE SO FAR: Said one of the Circus Fireman jugglers from Australia, looking up at the metallic Cube stage. "What the hell is this? It looks like a giant cheese grater."


If you have Fringe anecdotes to share with Maureen, call 474-1116 and leave a detailed message.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2012 D5

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