Airness 2021 – From the Director

Steve Sherman

What is airness?  As Golden Thunder states, “one never understands airness. One ACHIEVES airness.” Air guitar has been around for decades. When playwright Chelsea Marcantel was first introduced to the circuit she found it to be ridiculous, but soon became an unapologetic fan.  

People enjoyed pantomiming playing musical instruments as far back as the 1860’s, and air conducting began after Thomas Edison invented the phonograph…but when did air guitar specifically become a legitimate skill and competition and why?  

In the 90’s, college students in Finland had to come up with an assignment to create world peace. They thought, if everyone was holding and playing an air guitar, no one could be holding a weapon. Boom. World peace. Thus, a competition was formed, and each year it has grown so that now the world championships include champions from over 20 countries that join together in Oulu, Finland.  

This is not your normal hobby. It’s more of a “cult hobby.” And the cult culture fascinates me.  Maybe because they’re rare passions that make people all the more willing to devote their life to or maybe it’s because they’re mostly people searching for a passion and they latch on to something specific. Whatever the reason, hobbies like this bring people together. To quote Facebender, it “is not a community built upon competition, but camaraderie.” In the world of these hobbies, people take pride in being the first one at the venue and the last one to leave.  They passionately debate the craft and their knowledge of it.

Airness is an underdog story. Nina has been hurt by D Vicious and because of this, she wants to know what it is that draws him to this art form…and instead of getting revenge on him, she learns to appreciate it.

I love 80’s rock, which is a large influence on this play. There are songs from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s, but about half of the songs are from the 80’s.  I’ve heard people say they love or hate country music…love or hate rap…but everyone loves iconic rock n’ roll songs.  It brings people together. At the Thompson Boling Arena, Enter Sandman brings thousands of people together and creates an amazing energy before each game. Playing air guitar is something most of us have done without worrying about how silly we look because the music we’re rocking to is awesome, and just like our natural human love and need for storytelling, there’s something instinctual about moving to the music and pretending to be in the shoes of the rock star.