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Witness Interview: Mark Gable, Oxtales Actor

Witness Interview: Mark Gable

February 24, 2002, 2:45p.m.

The witness was identified as a sometimes participant in the Oxtales theater group. Detectives Sam Murphy and Ted Armstrong conducted the interview at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff’s Department. The interview was recorded on a portable audio tape recorder with the witness’s knowledge and consent.

TA= Detective Ted Armstron
SM= Detective Sam Murphy
= Mark Gable

SM: Thanks for taking the time to meet with us today.

MG: Sure.

SM: Can you state your name and address, please?

MG: I’m Mark Gable. I live at 1213 Harrison.

SM: How did you know Andrea Stover?

MG: God, that sounds so weird. To talk of her in the past tense. But I worked with her on some productions for Oxtales.

TA: How did you get involved with the group?

MG: My drama teacher introduced me to them. He thought it would be good for me to get some experience outside of just the school drama club.

SM: Why?

MG: I really enjoyed drama. For really the first time, I got excited about something in school. I guess you could say that I pretty much didn’t care about school until them. I signed up for drama thinking that it would be an easy A, you know? But I really got into it. My teacher said that he wanted to fuel the fire he saw in me. That he wanted me to get more work, outside of just school. So he took me down and introduced me.

SM: What was your first impression of Andrea?

MG: I was pretty nervous around her. I was just a kid and she was gorgeous. So there was that kind of thing. But once I saw her work, I was amazed. She was such a visionary. It was unbelievable the things that she saw.

SM: Did you work with Oxtales alone?

MG: Nah, I brought a couple of friends with me. Kurt Ripley and Larry Eastman. Kurt just wanted to hang out. He wasn’t really into it. Larry liked the theater, so he was more gung ho than Kurt, but still not as crazy about it as me.

SM: What kind of work did you do with Oxtales?

MG: Just grunt work. Nothing special. A lot of times, we were just gophers. Running to get pizza or whatever. Sometimes we worked with the scenery and the lights. Other times we might go through rehearsal if someone wasn’t there. You know, just stand in. It was whatever the company needed. Which was cool. I wasn’t under any delusions that I was going to walk in the door and be the star.

TA: So you didn’t mind doing the, uh, grunt work?

MG: No way. It was a great learning experience. That was one of the things I loved the most about Andrea. As driven as she was, she always took the time to explain things to me. Even if it was just about moving a piece of furniture to another position or something. She would always come over and explain why it was a good move.

SM: What about your friends? Were the cool just being gophers?

MG: Sure. Like I said, they were just hanging out, really. They didn’t care.

SM: Tell us about the “Snopes” production.

MG: Man, do we have to go through that?

SM: I’m afraid so, Mark.

MG: Well, what do you want to know?

SM: What was your opinion about the material on stage?

MG: I thought it was kind of racy, but no big deal. Some art is supposed to shock. That’s part of what it does. But I didn’t think the simulated sex was that raunchy. When I was a kid, my parents would go out for the night and my mamaw would come over and watch us. She always fell asleep at about 8:30 and then my brother and I would sneak into the den and watch Cinemax. They called it something like “Cinemax After Dark” or something like that. The movies were always horrible, things like “Body Chemistry Part 48” or “Prison Girls in Heat.” Anyway, that was far worse than anything that was performed by Oxtales.

SM: When Andrea was arrested, what did you do?

MG: I went home and argued with my parents. I told them that they were overreacting, I told them that they were ruining people’s lives. This is almost a cliché, but my dad keeps a stack of Playboys in his closet. And he’s going to throw someone in jail for a play?

TA: What was your parent’s response?

MG: They wouldn’t budge. They were so high and mighty. So righteous. They said that the process was too far along to stop now. That even if they wanted to, they couldn’t stop things. But of course they didn’t want to.

SM: What did you do then?

MG: I moved out. I packed up my stuff and left. I crashed on a buddy’s couch for a couple of months. Finally, I had to move back in with my parents but we pretty much kept our distance from each other. As soon as college started, I moved into the dorm and I haven’t spent a night under their roof since then.

TA: Did you cooperate with the prosecution?

MG: I didn’t have a choice! I was absolutely against the prosecution. But they put you on the stand and ask these questions. And then they cut you off and won’t let you explain. They ask something like “was there nudity in the show” and you say “yes, but” and they interrupt you. They won’t let you explain why the nudity was necessary from an artistic point of view or anything. It was completely unfair.

SM: How did you feel when Andrea left for prison?

MG: How do you think I felt? I was crushed. Especially at that age, it was a hard thing to go through. I guess I have to admit that I had a bit of a crush on her. Just some kid thing. But then you watch someone go to jail because of a witch-hunt that involved your parents. That’s hard, man. In a lot of ways, I ruined that woman’s life.

SM: Did you talk to Andrea while she was in jail?

MG: I sent some letters. I figured she would never want to talk to me again. But I still had to let her know that I was sorry and that I did all I could to protect her.

TA: What was her response?

MG: She said it was okay, that she understood. She said she didn’t blame me.

SM: We were told that you are at Ole Miss now. Majoring in theater.

MG: Yeah.

SM: Have you worked with Oxtales any since the “Snopes” production?

MG: Just a little. I’ve helped out here and there. It’s been weird, you know? I don’t know if those guys want me around.

SM: Were you planning on working with them some more when Andrea got out?

MG: I was hoping to. Andrea had always been very supportive of me. She said I could be a very good actor. So I thought we could re-connect when she got out. But the new production didn’t seem to have anything in it for me.

TA: She wouldn’t cast you in it?

MG: She just seemed distant. She was never really concrete about me acting in it. It was always like “check back next week. We’ll have some things ironed out by then.” But they never would be ironed out.

TA: Did you think she was blowing you off?

MG: Yeah.

SM: How did that make you feel?

MG: It depended on my mood. Sometimes I understood. I could see why she might not want me around. But other times, I got really mad. I can’t help what my parents did. She told me that she didn’t blame me, so why wouldn’t she talk to me when she got out? I thought things were cool between us, so why did she ignore me?

SM: I’m sure she was confused and uncertain about what to do. Just like you.

MG: Yeah, well. You’re probably right, but that still wasn’t cool.

SM: Mark, we have to ask this question: where were you on the night Andrea was murdered?

MG: I was watching a movie. My roommate was there. Frank Nicolleti. I was at home.

SM: Okay, thanks for your time. I’m sure we’ll have more questions and need to talk to you again, but that will do it for now.

End Interview 3:10p.m.

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