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Biography: Ethan Lewiston, Oxtales Theatre member and playwright
 

Ethan Lewiston was born to Jim and Rachel Lewiston on September 18, 1972 in Grenada, Mississippi. Jim was an accountant and Rachel was a nurse in a doctor's office. Although an accountant by trade, Jim had a great love of books and the Lewiston house had quite an extensive library. At an early age, Ethan liked to carry books around the house, long before he was old enough to read. Later, he became fascinated with the pictures of dinosaurs in the encyclopedia.

By fourth grade, Ethan showed a tremendous aptitude for reading. Each day, he walked down the hall to the sixth grade class for reading groups. He raced through most of the books in the small elementary school library and read comics and fantasy novels in his spare time. By his freshman year in high school Ethan was known for being a star pupil in English class. He wrote short stories and planned to write a novel before he graduated. His sophomore year, Ethan joined the drama club because he had a crush on a girl in the group. He showed some acting skills and was quickly assigned the lead roles in most of the productions.

Ethan enjoyed the stage, the rehearsals, and the pressure leading up to opening night. However, he was frustrated with the silly plays the group usually produced. So in the summer of his junior year, Ethan wrote his own play about life in a small southern high school. "Spanish Moss" was a hit in his small town and it won a statewide competition for student drama. By the end of his high school career, Ethan was imagining himself as a budding Neil Simon.

After high school graduation, Ethan attended the University of Mississippi and majored in theatre arts. Shortly after beginning the program, Ethan realized that his dramatic future was in writing; his acting skills were not very good. Although he had excelled at the high school level, Ethan was not a good enough actor to compete at the collegiate level. However, his teachers praised his scripts and his plays were in constant demand by actors in the department.

In many of his classes, Ethan kept running into a pretty and talented student named Andrea Stover. He was drawn to her intensity and her lack of fear on stage. They began working together on projects that became the talk of the department. Shortly after Andrea was named as director of Oxtales, she hired Ethan as the playwright.

Over time, Ethan began to chafe at Andrea's tight reins. As much as he admired her talent and determination, he sometimes resented her selfishness in production. He felt that she changed or cut much of his best work. When Andrea was sentenced to prison after the production of "Snopes," Ethan was glad for the break. He was sorry to see his friend go to jail, but as a writer, his work blossomed under the direction of Dale King.

"Black Boy in the Closet" was a runaway success for Oxtales. It garnered critical acclaim as well as sell-out crowds. There were mentions of Ethan's work in the Memphis and Jackson papers. He was included in a Southern Living article about young playwrights in the South. He felt like his work was finally being taken seriously instead of just being viewed as a novelty full of sensationalism.

Ethan had mixed emotions about Andrea's release from prison. He was glad to see his friend back in town, but he worried about how Oxtales would respond. Although he was afraid that Andrea would return and take over complete control again, he hoped that some compromise could be reached between Andrea and Dale's very different styles. When no compromise was forthcoming and Andrea returned as opinionated as ever, Ethan began working on plays that he thought would be produced by groups other than Oxtales. He felt a little disloyal, but thought it was important to let his work continue to grow and not get dragged down into Andrea's shock tactics.

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