Lighting designer Christopher Akerlind shares how he is coping with COVID-19 closings in this series, "When the Lights Went Out," where theatrical designers discuss what they are doing these days.
Christopher Akerlind probably wouldn’t have had an unfortunate encounter with a table saw if he’d continued to prepare for Waiting for Godot at Theater for a New Audience, or the 2020 Opera Theater of Saint Louis season, or two projects at Santa Fe Opera. He had submitted the Godot plot and was waiting to have it approved. The 2020 OTSL plot was approved and awaiting arrival of electricians in late April to hang. The two Santa Fe projects were yet to be organized. And then it stopped.
But Akerlind has been working—he began design meetings for a new Eugene Onegin at Sante Fe next summer, and he adjudicated NYU Graduate Lighting Designer thesis projects by Zoom. But because he’s working less, he’s had time for some gardening and a lot of reading. He recently read Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me and caught the Bolshoi Opera’s Onegin on the Medici channel. He’s also “reacquainting myself with our lovely family cat, Figaro, sorting through old family photos and correspondence, things I never thought I’d have time to do.” He’s been finishing up pieces of his house in Maine, too.
Sheltered at home with his sister and niece, he’s in touch with colleagues, friends, and other family members, mostly through Zoom.
It’s not a bad life, but it’s concerning. “I wake every morning thinking that I might never again do what I’ve done for thirty plus years,” Akerlind muses. “I miss the theater, the community of it badly. I can’t say, however, that this prelude to retirement doesn’t suit me.”