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Cirque Mechanics returns to The Mendel Center with Birdhouse Factory

Cirque Mechanics returns to The Mendel Center with Birdhouse Factory

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 previously 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 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.



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.

Posted January 05, 2022

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Lake Michigan College Mendel Center
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