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How did the Oxtales playwright feel about Andrea's return as director?

Saturday, January 7, 2017 – 1:23 p.m.

Ethan Lewiston is the playwright for Oxtales.

Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.

  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Ethan Lewiston

Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming in on such short notice.

Ethan Lewiston: No problem. I had the afternoon off work anyway.

Detective Murphy: Would you please state your name and address?

Ethan Lewiston: Ethan Lewiston. I live at 311 Garner Avenue.

Detective Murphy: And what was your relationship to Andrea Stover?

Ethan Lewiston: I worked with her as the playwright for many of her productions. We went to school together and then began working with Oxtales some years ago.

Detective Murphy: Is writing your only role with Oxtales?

Ethan Lewiston: For the most part. Sometimes I'll fill in and take a small role if needed, but I'm more of just a warm body on stage. I'm definitely no actor.

Detective Murphy: Do you have any other jobs in addition to Oxtales?

Ethan Lewiston: Sure. I work in the office for Hambek Rental Properties. Additionally, I do a bit of freelance writing on the side to try to pick up a little cash here and there.

Detective Murphy: How did you get along with Andrea?

Ethan Lewiston: Fairly well, I guess. There were tough times because she was so demanding and fixated on her own vision. It's sometimes difficult to pour everything you have into a script and then have someone else demand that it be totally torn apart simply because it doesn't connect with their vision. In many ways, it was Andrea's way or the highway.

Detective Armstrong: So the two of you didn't like each other?

Ethan Lewiston: I didn't say that. I just said that there were difficult times in our professional relationship. That happens in every theatre company.

Detective Murphy: How were the two of you getting along since her release from prison?

Ethan Lewiston: It was somewhat tenuous. Everyone in the group was walking on eggshells. No one really knew how Andrea was going to re-establish the bond with the group. And Dale was still sort of in the picture as well. We're like athletes. We may really like one coach, and then another comes in, and you adjust to the new guy. Then the old guy returns, and no matter how much you liked him, it's still a difficult thing to adjust again.

Detective Murphy: When was the least time you saw Andrea?

Ethan Lewiston: The last rehearsal. Frank and some of the guys said you asked them about that night. That was the last time I saw her.

Detective Armstrong: What were your impressions of that last rehearsal?

Ethan Lewiston: It was a tough night for me. She was asking for a lot of rewrites and really tearing up my work. I was mad and frustrated. When Dale was directing, we never had to go through this pain. I have to admit that for most of the evening, I was wishing Dale was still in charge.

Detective Armstrong: Why?

Ethan Lewiston: We just seem to connect better than I did with Andrea. I wrote and Dale directed, and it all went very smoothly. With Andrea, it was always like pulling teeth. We made some very good work over the years, but there were plenty of times when I wondered why Andrea didn't just write the plays herself since she was so opposed to anything that wasn't her vision.

Detective Murphy: What did you do when rehearsal broke up?

Ethan Lewiston: I went home and watched some TV with my girlfriend. She's an architect and likes to watch all those shows on HGTV.

Detective Murphy: We heard some of the people went out for a drink after rehearsal. They didn't invite you?

Ethan Lewiston: They did, but I wasn't up for it. I was feeling a little queasy — probably all the stress — so I just went home to veg out with my girlfriend. After we watched TV for a while, I decided to work on another script.

Detective Murphy: Was this script for an Oxtales production?

Ethan Lewiston: I don't think so. I've been working on some scripts that I know Andrea wouldn't have liked, so I was thinking of selling them somewhere. Or getting them produced by another company than Oxtales. It was a good release valve for the times when I was frustrated with Andrea.

Detective Murphy: Why wouldn't she have liked the plays?

Ethan Lewiston: Because they're pretty quiet. No blood, no gore, no sex, no bad language. Some of my work has gotten excellent reviews, and I want to keep doing work that is outside of the shock tactics Andrea loved.

Detective Murphy: Were you involved in the "Snopes" production?

Ethan Lewiston: Sure. I wrote it.

Detective Armstrong: Were you prosecuted for it?

Ethan Lewiston: I'm sure you guys have the records, so you know who was prosecuted and who wasn't. But to answer the question, no. I wasn't prosecuted. What I wrote about wasn't obscene or anything. And I certainly wasn't involved in bringing in the high school kids. So I didn't do anything wrong.

Detective Murphy: But you think Andrea did do something wrong?

Ethan Lewiston: No, I didn't really mean it that way. Listen, I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I really liked Andrea. We didn't always agree on artistic matters, but I enjoyed her energy. I considered her a great friend. Our creative disagreements didn't hinder our friendship. I wrote to her many times while she was in prison, and I visited her a few times.

Detective Murphy: What did you think about Andrea's refusal to plea bargain?

Ethan Lewiston: I thought it was kind of extreme, but it was something that she felt strongly about. I think she was more upset about having to register as a sex offender than the jail time. She didn't mind giving up her life to prison, but I think the label really bothered her.

Detective Murphy: Do you know anything about how she was handling her registration situation since her release?

Ethan Lewiston: Not really. She mentioned that her parole officer was a pretty sleazy guy but that's it.

Detective Murphy: You mentioned writing to Andrea in prison. What did you talk about?

Ethan Lewiston: Just what was going on with the group. I told her how things were changing under Dale's lead and about the work we were doing.

Detective Armstrong: How did things change under Dale's direction?

Ethan Lewiston: We moved away from the shock stuff. He's more serious about making his point without sensationalism. But things also started to flow much more.

Detective Murphy: In your opinion, who was better for Oxtales: Andrea or Dale?

Ethan Lewiston: I don't know that I can say which was better. I think each had their time and place. Andrea really took things to a new level and got the group a lot of attention. Dale was doing a good job of showing people that there was some substance to the group and not just sensation. He was showing that the attention Andrea brought wasn't just a result of smoke and mirrors.

Detective Murphy: Were you surprised when Owen replaced Dale as soon as Andrea got back?

Ethan Lewiston: Not really. Owen and Andrea were keeping very quiet about the group's leadership in the weeks leading up to her release. I figured that she would come back and resume control. It's a shame because Dale is very talented and was doing great work.

Detective Murphy: What will happen to the group now?

Ethan Lewiston: I assume Dale will take over the helm again. Although, I think Owen is pretty shaken so it wouldn't surprise me if the group just broke up. It would be a shame, but we had a good run.

Detective Murphy: Can you think of anyone who would want to hurt Andrea?

Ethan Lewiston: Except for the nuts who persecuted her in the first place? No, not really.

Detective Murphy: Okay. Thanks for your time, Ethan.

Ethan Lewiston: I'm glad to do whatever I can to help.

End interview 2:05 p.m.

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