Joe Atack is the producing artistic director at Good Luck Macbeth Theatre. As a director, he’s currently leading rehearsals of GLM’s next production, the stage adaptation of Let the Right One In, the 2004 novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, about a child vampire named Eli. The book has also been adapted into two films.
You’re doing Let the Right One In. Why that?
We really like doing things that have a sort of cult following in some ways. But we also—especially when it comes to the Halloween time—we like to give our audiences an opportunity to see something kind of scary and interesting and different. And we came across the script for it and realized it had been on Broadway and on the West End. And it’s a really challenging script. That’s what really finally caught our interest is that it’s very challenging. It’s got a lot of technical elements to it. But it’s also, at heart, a love story.
When does it open? How are rehearsals going?
It opens on Oct. 4, and it runs pretty much through the entire month, and it’s mostly Thursday through Saturdays, but we have a couple of Wednesdays in there, too. Rehearsals are going great so far. We’re still in the early stages, getting on our feet, and coming to grips with all the characters and relationships. And figuring out the tech elements for blood and snow and water and sand. … There’s a lot of different locations, so the set design is very conceptual as opposed to trying to recreate the full locations of each spot. There’s 25 different locations in the play. … The stage adaptation—the written adaptation of it—it particularly draws on the book and the Swedish film. … I loved the Swedish movie. There’s barely any dialogue in the movie of course. It has that sort of old, classic movie vibe to me. It’s not all instant gratification. You’re sort of led through the story in a really interesting way that also makes you, the viewer, do some of the work. … There’s so many interesting things about it, like, how the vampire folklore interacts with the modern world, and what that really means—the lack of privacy in the modern world—even though it’s set a few decades back. The creeping modern world, and how it becomes harder and harder to hide within the modern world. And something that fascinates me is the idea of this being being trapped as a child forever, and always being perceived and talked to as if they’re a child. And how does that affect them cognitively?
Tell me about your cast.
It’s a great cast. Some people who are new to us at GLM and some people who have done a few things for us before. Our Eli is played by Courtney Ropp. Courtney is really interesting. This is the first time she’s played a lead for us. … She is really fantastic. She’s actually a photographer and videographer, and she actually came out of the military. She was in the military for a number of years. She’s a veteran.
How old is she?
I want to say she’s 28?
So, late 2Os—so she’s going to be playing a much younger character?
Right, exactly. And we’ve done that—there are no children in it. This is a big difference with the stage and the film adaptation. And I think it’s very true of stage and film and the difference between the two. When you’re sitting in the audience and there’s violence, when you’re watching a film, you’re kind of one step removed from it, but when you’re watching it in a play, it’s generally—audiences give you a lot of feedback—it’s generally a lot more shocking to see blood and violence and things of that nature. And so there’s some stuff that we couldn’t really do with children.