Q: How did you prepare for the role of Brom Bones in Sleepy Hollow? Does playing a villain on stage pose any different challenges compared to playing a hero?
A: The rehearsal process for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was interesting because it was rehearsed in true repertory. Blithe Spirit just closed on Sunday and now we are opening a brand new show. So, we were rehearsing for Sleepy with another show on the back burner (and sometimes the front burner) the whole time. That overlap meant that I had to focus my efforts on a handful of distinct, visible choices and let some of the other “stuff” take care of itself. I believe that it is important that the character be immediately identified in opposition to Ichabod so I focused on the characters youth and occupation. Brom isn’t bound by the formality of the period and enjoys a consequent buoyancy. Along with that youthful bounce is a salt-of-the-earth mentality that wears on his body; therefore, his movement carries him to extreme ups and downs that I hope rival Ichabod’s rather formal manner and demeanor. The tricky part was avoiding the tendency to patronize the character. Sometimes when playing younger people or uneducated people it is easy to talk down to them as an actor and not give them their due. Although, I’ve tried to address this trap.
The question of villainy in Sleepy Hollow is an interesting one. While Brom is most certainly the antagonist to Ichabod’s story, Ichabod is not entirely without fault. In some views, Ichabod might have received what he deserved. With that said, I didn’t approach Brom as a villain as much as a person without some of the social boundaries to stop him from acting out. Brom is young, a little immature, and definitely braggertly and so responds to Ichabod’s threats of social coup with a roguish flippancy. Brom wouldn’t think twice about scaring the pants off Ichabod or making a fool of him in the classroom or at the square dance. He also disregards the personal space boundaries of the time by touching and at times man-handling his rival. And so, the story is not one of evil motives or ill-intentions. Rather, it is a story of two men competing for a young heart using the social tools they have at their disposal.