"He was obviously in several ways a very eccentric man," said David , who plays Irving. Girard called Sunnyside "creepy," noting that it was a mix of several differnt types of architectural styles. Irving was an ambassador to Spain; his time there inspired a Spanish tower on his house.
Before he was an ambassador, the New York City-born Irving was simply an American living abroad, spending 17 years in Europe. He had a collection of short stories published, which included "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and began to earn him acclaim from Europeans who, to that point, had more or less looked down upon American writers.
"He had to go, 'They really did think we were a bunch of hicks,'" Hansen said. "Americans didn't have that respect."
Burr, meanwhile, has suffered from a similar lack of respect in the annals of history. Angry about remarks political rival Alexander Hamilton made about him, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. Burr mortally wounded Hamilton, which put a serious dent in Burr's political career as he was roundly criticized and indicted on charges of murder. Later, he faced charges of treason as rumors swirled about a filibuster he was going to lead into Spanish possessions in Mexico. He spent several years in self-imposed exile in Europe before returning to practice law in New York City, where he lived until he died.
"He became a pariah," Girard said.
Hansen's story, though, shows a softer side of Burr. Hansen noted that Burr was an abolitionist and an early supporter of women's rights, even introducing a bill to the state Legislature to give women the right to vote.
"We get to see a little of his side of the story," Girard said. "He was not necessarily this dastardly character."
Girard likes that the play doesn't portray Irving as simply a one-dimensional writer. In 1809, Irving's fiancee, Matilda Hoffman, died when she was just 17.