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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Art Attack

Last year, Cirque du Soleil played in 271 cities in 32 countries, and in February 2010, the Canada-based circus celebrated 25 years as a dominating entertainment empire. With that kind of history, Kyle Arnett booked the Cirque Mechanics Birdhouse Factory as the last show of the current Henderson Area Arts Alliance season at the Henderson Fine Arts Center April 10.

The show begins in a gloomy 1920s factory. Uptight management closes the doors, and a new team opens the zany “Birdhouse Factory” where contortionists perform on turntables and trampoline wall artists fly through the air. The factory’s equipment, including wheels, gears, and industrial light fixtures, become the props for a circus act. The performers are a vast, multitalented group of superb jugglers, high-flying trapeze artists, and hilarious clowns.

The Cirque creators expand the boundaries of creativity. A reviewer from The New York Times called the Birdhouse Factory “exceptional, evocative, eye-catching, ear-catching and, to keep the list short, engrossingly entertaining.” It demonstrates what HAAA hopes all art can do: captivate and inspire.

The HAAA began 16 years ago when a bluegrass music band performed in a new $6 million Henderson Fine Arts Center in its namesake Kentucky town. Then, the fledgling organization was an attempt to consolidate efforts from a variety of like-minded arts groups determined to bring more cultural experiences to Western Kentucky. “We’re a small venue on a much smaller budget,” says Arnett, HAAA’s executive director. “We can’t have the quantity of shows (Evansville offers), so we have to make sure we have quality and variety.”

Finding these diverse acts is up to Arnett. Last January, she traveled to a national booking conference in New York City. Arnett asked several arts directors what show they loved from their last three seasons, and each said, “Birdhouse Factory.”

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