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Cirque Mechanics returns to The Mendel Center with Birdhouse Factory

BENTON HARBOR, MI – Enter the most unlikely setting for a circus: a factory. One where the workers are acrobats and the machines are circus props. Welcome to Birdhouse Factory by Cirque Mechanics. Cirque Mechanics returns to The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College on Saturday, February 19, 2022, at 8 pm, as part of the Discovery Series. The company previous performed 42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels in early 2019 at the Benton Harbor venue.

Cirque Mechanics was founded in 2004 by Boston native and German Wheel artist, Chris Lashua, after the success of his collaborative project with the Circus Center of San Francisco, Birdhouse Factory. Cirque Mechanics quickly established itself as a premiere American circus with its unique approach to performance, inspiring storytelling, and innovative mechanical staging.
 
Inspired by modern circus, Cirque Mechanics finds its roots in the mechanical and its heart in the stories of American industrial ingenuity. The shows, imbedded in realism, display a raw quality rarely found in modern circus. Cirque Mechanics signature style is wrapped in acrobatic, mechanical marvels, and a bit of clowning around. Spectacle Magazine hailed it as “the greatest contribution to the American circus since Cirque du Soleil.”
 
About Birdhouse Factory
Birdhouse Factory is a place where spectators will watch a contortionist perform on a turntable powered by unicyclists, be captivated by the trapeze artist flying high thanks to the spins of an acrobat inside a giant gear-like wheel, and stunned when the trampoline wall artists defy the laws of physics by virtually flying and walking on air. All the while they will be giggling at the antics of the comedic characters, impressed by the acro-dancing, and enchanted by the story of laughter, love, flight, and birdhouses.  

It is a simple story of daily life in a “widgets” factory circa 1935, where workers are brought together by the most unlikely of events: a bird accidentally injured by the main steam boiler. The accident and caring for the bird bring the workers closer and inspires them to break away from the efficiency and monotony of the assembly-line mentality and display their true inner talents and abilities.  In the process, they use their bodies and machines to build birdhouses in a less efficient albeit joyful and soulful way.

Birdhouse Factory delivers a timeless message of hope, camaraderie, and the power of the collaborative human spirit when presented with adversity. Although conceptualized prior to the pandemic and inspired by the Great Depression, Birdhouse Factory addresses the challenges faced by industry and workers during unprecedented times. The story is one of imaginative recovery where humans create magic when working together towards common goals. 
 
Birdhouse Factory was inspired in part by the masterful industry murals of Mexican-born artist Diego Rivera, the outrageous illustrations of cartoonist Rube Goldberg, and the slap-stick style humor of Charlie Chaplin's film Modern Times. While its inspirations make Birdhouse Factory artful, nostalgic, and funny, the true essence of the show comes from the circus.
 
Tickets for Cirque Mechanics: Birdhouse Factory are available at www.TheMendelCenter.com and through The Mendel Center Box Office at (269) 927-8700, option 1, weekdays from 10 am to 6 pm, and one hour before show times. The box office is located in the Grand Upton Hall lobby of The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College, 2755 E. Napier Avenue, Benton Harbor, MI. Tickets start at $26. Discounts are available for seniors, students and children, veterans, and groups of 10 or more.
 
This activity is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, and funded in part by the Gast Young People’s Performance Endowment.
 
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Patron safety is the first priority for The Mendel Center. The Lake Michigan College COVID-19 policy for campus visitors currently includes mandated masks and social distancing whenever possible. If a change in the local public health landscape results in adjustments to the policy and/or event format, ticket holders will be notified via email as soon as possible.
 
About The Mendel Center
The Mendel Center raised the curtain on its first Mainstage season performance in the fall of 1992. Since that time, it has presented Mainstage season performances to more than half a million patrons in the 1,559-seat Mendel Center Mainstage Theatre. Newly renovated Grand Upton Hall, first opened in 1979, is a 14,400-square-foot venue serving the community as the host site for meetings, banquets, trade shows, weddings, and other celebrations. The 234-seat Hanson Theatre is home to the Lake Michigan College Visual & Performing Arts Departments as well as a variety of Mendel Center and community events.
 
The Mendel Center is 30 minutes from Niles and 40 minutes from the Kalamazoo and South Bend areas. It is located on the Lake Michigan College campus at 2755 E. Napier Avenue, Benton Harbor, Michigan, one mile east of I-94 (Exit 30) and one mile west of the US 31 Bypass (exit 24). Its GPS mapping address is 1100 Yore Avenue, Benton Harbor, MI.
 
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Mendel Center 2021-2022 Season Sponsors
Stage Side Sponsors: Honor Credit Union, Huntington Bank, JVIS USA, Kruggel Lawton CPAs, Meijer, Silver Beach Pizza, Silver Harbor Brewing Company, Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council, Sturgis Bank, TPC Technologies, Wales Wealth Management Group, Whirlpool Corporation
 
Platinum Sponsors: Adent’s Landscape Supplies, Inc., Berrien Community Foundation, Brookview Montessori School, Hungerford Nichols, CPAs + Advisors, Imperial Furniture, Insurance Management Services, Pier 33, United Federal Credit Union
 
Media Partners: 98.3 The Coast, News/Talk 94.9 WSJM, Sunny 101.5, SuperHits 103.7, MailMax, and The Herald Palladium,
 
Preferred Partner Hotels: The Inn at Harbor Shores and The Boulevard Inn & Bistro