Envelope with canceled stamp and a photo paperclipped to it

Letter Excerpts – Lewiston

YOKNAPATAWPHA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT

Investigating Officer(s): Det. T. Armstrong, Det. S. Murphy
Incident No.: 001019-28B-2022
Case Description: Andrea Stover death investigation

The Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department collected as evidence from Andrea Stover's residence five hundred forty-eight (548) letters addressed to Andrea Stover at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.

Included in that number were twenty-eight (28) letters from Ethan Lewiston (Evidence #s 001019-21-302 through 001019-21-329).

YCSD investigators have examined those letters and assembled the following excerpts from the Lewiston letters.

These excerpts were determined to be potentially relevant to the Andrea Stover death investigation and are typical of the content of all letters from Ethan Lewiston.


Jun 9, 2020

Letter Date: June 9, 2020
Postmark: Oxford, MS

The company all seems terribly depressed since you left. Dale is doing a great job trying to keep everyone's spirits up, and Owen has been coming around a lot as well.

Everyone wants to know about your legal status. Are you going to appeal your conviction or try to fight it in any way? Please let me know what's going on so I can give the group an update.

––End excerpt––

Jun 13, 2020

Letter Date: June 13, 2020
Postmark: Oxford, MS

I told everyone that you had no plans to appeal and they were all upset. I tried to explain to them your feelings that if society was going to persecute artists, then you were willing to stand up and take the punishment, but they just couldn't understand it. However, everyone trusts your judgment and accepts the fact that it's your decision to make.

On another note, Dale is being very aggressive about taking over control. For the first few days, he was very timid and scared to exert himself. Now, he's becoming very demanding and take-charge. He is re-doing our rehearsal schedule, and he has added a lot of fundamental breathing exercises and things to the warm-up.

Some of the company feel like he's changing things too much, but some like the new perspectives he is bringing to the table.

I don't mention any of this to alarm you, just to let you know what's going on in case someone mentions something to you. I think in the long run, everything will be fine and the group will be stronger as a result of all this turmoil.

––End excerpt––

Jun 19, 2020

Letter Date: June 19, 2020
Postmark: Oxford, MS

You definitely don't have to worry about the group under Dale's direction. He is doing a fabulous job!

I have to admit that I was apprehensive myself when he started taking over. It was like he just threw all the established processes out the window and replaced everything with his own ideas. However, his ideas have really borne a lot of fruit.

The group is functioning incredibly well. The work we're doing is interesting as well. Dale is pushing us in new directions to more political concepts and moving away from some of the theatrics we've employed in the past.

He can be very demanding and he most definitely wants to put his stamp on things, but at least so far, it's been great!

––End excerpt––

Jul 4, 2020

Letter Date: July 4, 2020
Postmark: Oxford, MS

A bunch of us got together for the holiday today and wanted to say hello. You were missed at our party, as you are missed every day.

Once again, the discussion centered around how you should have saved yourself and plea-bargained down to a lesser sentence. But that's only because people miss you.

The good news is that work with Oxtales has continued to go well. Things are just running very smoothly. We've had almost no re-writes of the script!

Dale and I work very well together, and we seem to anticipate each other's needs, so very little re-work is ever needed.

––End excerpt––

Jul 28, 2020

Letter Date: July 28, 2020
Postmark: Oxford, MS

We're trying to set up video cameras to record rehearsals so you can see how well everything is going. Is there any way for you to watch videos in there?

––End excerpt––

Sep 3, 2020

Letter Date: September 3, 2020
Postmark: Oxford, MS

We're brainstorming ideas right now. Dale wants to do a highly political piece, but one that is stark in its lack of offensive material. He's interested in exploring harsh or difficult subjects without nudity, cussing, etc.

We were watching TV the other night, and we both wondered why it is that when TV shows want to be known as "gritty" they start cussing more or showing the actors' bare butts.

Is there a way to artistically communicate the despair of reality without the bad language and nudity? And is there a way to portray it cleanly without becoming a Disney movie or Leave it to Beaver?

I think it's a great avenue to explore. I've written up some scenes, and we haven't had to re-write any of them. This may be some of our best work ever!

––End excerpt––

Dec 15, 2020

Letter Date: December 15, 2020
Postmark: Oxford, MS

How many visitors can you see at one time? We were all thinking about coming down to see you around Christmas, but we don't know what the procedures are. Could we all see you at one time or would we have to take turns? Can we bring food?

Please let us know how this whole thing works. Dale was somewhat against the idea since we're doing very well in rehearsals and he doesn't like the idea of breaking our rhythm. But he eventually gave in to the group.

––End excerpt––

Feb 26, 2021

Letter Date: February 26, 2021
Postmark: Oxford, MS

The new play is opening in a little more than a month, and rumors around town are that it might very well be our best work yet. There is quite a buzz going. Wish you could be there!

––End excerpt––

May 5, 2021

Letter Date: May 5, 2021
Postmark: Oxford, MS

Sorry it's been a while, but I've been very busy. I'm riding such a wave of energy right now. I spend hours on end writing, and it all just keeps pouring out. I can't physically type fast enough. So I've been somewhat remiss in my letter writing.

But I have been wanting to let you know how "Black Boy in the Closet" performed. It was great! We sold out every show and even got reviewed in the Memphis newspapers. It sounds so weird to say about our work, but it was critically acclaimed by everyone who saw it. Everyone really wished you could have been there to see it.

We're taking off about six to eight weeks or so. Dale thinks that we need a break since we've been working non-stop for a couple of years now. I know your belief is that artists need to keep working, but I think Dale might have a point with this. Everyone is pretty burned out. And we'll keep working on small stuff, just not undertake any major productions for a little while.

I'm glad because it will give me time to savor the success of "Black Boy in the Closet" as well as let this wave of creativity pour out of me. That way, when we do start to work more seriously again, I'll have a backlog of good material.

––End excerpt––

Aug 28, 2021

Letter Date: August 28, 2021
Postmark: Oxford, MS

We started working again a few weeks ago. Just small stuff, mainly for our own practice. It's really more of Dale's focus on the fundamentals. We're doing small scenes between two actors, very little in the way of set or props. Just to hone our skills. Everyone is really excited and enjoying it.

Someone pointed out the other day that it's only a couple of months now until you get released. I'm sure you're very excited. Any ideas on the exact date?

––End excerpt––

Nov 20, 2021

Letter Date: November 20, 2021
Postmark: Oxford, MS

Glad to hear you're getting out in a couple months. Your parents must be thrilled.

When do you think you'll be catching up with Oxtales? Have you talked to Owen at all about what your role will be when you get back?

––End excerpt––

Dec 9, 2021

Letter Date: December 9, 2021
Postmark: Oxford, MS

Don't keep us in suspense. Everyone keeps asking what you're going to do when you return.

Owen has been around the group a lot less lately, and when he is around, he's keeping very quiet. Are you going to come back to the director's spot or are you going to do something else?

––End excerpt––

Jan 7, 2022

Letter Date: January 7, 2022
Postmark: Oxford, MS

Everyone has adopted a kind of "wait and see" attitude. Of course, everyone is thrilled that you're coming back.

As your friends, we are happy you will be out and back in our midst. And as artists, we're looking forward to your contributions. Everyone is so excited about your return.

I just think some of them wish they knew what the org chart was going to be. You know how some people get hung up on those kinds of things.

Unfortunately, rehearsals have hit a bit of a snag. Things just haven't been going well. We were on such a hot streak there for a while, but things just seem to be really bogging down now.

––End excerpt––

Jan 27, 2022

Letter Date: January 27, 2022
Postmark: Oxford, MS

See ya in a few days!

––End excerpt––


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