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Playwright brings veterans ‘Back in the World’

Recently, veteran and playwright Loren Marsters penned a script entitled “Back in the World.” Vietnam veterans in particular, and some veterans of other wars, often referred to returning home as going “back to the world,” words reflective of combat life that was considered living in an alternative civilization.

He is a Marine Corps veteran who served as a Vietnamese interpreter. Before the service, while still a teenager, he said he was arrested numerous times in California for burglary, car theft and other charges. Finally the judge told him, “I’m tired of having to deal with you.” When Marsters was brought before him the last time, “He gave me until the end of the day to join the military or he was going to sentence me back to jail,” Marsters said.

“So I left and saw a Marine recruitment office, and I thought I’d look pretty good in that uniform. I brought the enlistment papers back to the judge.”

Age 18 and an adult in the eyes of the law, once in the Marines, “I learned right off the bat that I was not as bad as I thought I was. I just needed to keep my mouth shut.” He said the recruit receiving area was a real revelation. “It was ‘Here I am, what the hell am I doing here?’ but that inspired me to try even more. I did very well in language school. And for the first time in my life I studied my butt off.”

After his discharge he went to college and got active in the theater program. After graduation he attended broadcasting school and worked in radio as well as doing some film promotion. From there he entered the world of advertising in Arizona.

He wrote his first play in 1979, and “just kept writing.” He found success when he penned a play titled “Domestic Violence, the Musical.” That show toured for 10 years in the military, although it was not aimed strictly at military individuals. Marsters premiered it at a dance studio in Las Vegas. It was there that a promoter saw the show and sold it for military distribution.

Then one night his wife and two couples they knew went out for coffee. The three men had served together in Vietnam, and began talking about their experiences there.

Until then they had refused to discuss it with their wives. When the evening was over, his wife said, “I think you found your next show.” “And that’s how ‘Back in the World’ came to be,” he explained.

It explores their time in Vietnam and in civilian life after combat. Buoyed by his past success in Nevada, he contacted actors here and was soon doing table readings of the new work at a location in Henderson. Before completing the play and having it produced, he plans to initially put on 15-minute showcases for veterans groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Order of the Purple Heart and American Legion in such locations as Boulder City, Henderson and Pahrump.

“Veterans, that’s our audience,” he said. And he’ll continue to stage full rehearsals so that by April he’ll be able to produce a complete workshop including lighting, music and blocking as a prelude to the real thing.

For more information, go to www.lorenmarsters.com.

Chuck N. Baker is an award-winning journalist and a Vietnam War Purple Heart veteran. He can be heard at 8:30 a.m. each Sunday on KKVV-AM hosting “That’s America to Me” and occasionally on KUNV-FM hosting “America’s Veterans, Today and Tomorrow.”

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