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About Just Plain Folks

Welcome To Just Plain Folks!

In 1985, at Depauw University, Brian Austin Whitney formed a group of actors and theater participants into an organization called Just Plain Folks. The reason for this was to support a student written and produced play that was being shunned by the theater establishment after promises of support had been made months before. At the very last minute, the "official" theater organization decided to run a more commercially viable show, assuming that Brian and his group would simply give up and go away. Instead of giving in to the establishment, Brian and his band of Just Plain Folks went forward, using a group of actors that had never made it into the clique of theater politics at the school, but who had the heart, determination and the talent to succeed in the face of doubt, adversity and lots of turmoil.

An alternative location was found to host the play, and Brian shrewdly picked the same weekend to present their show as the "official" group. This caused even more turmoil, even drawing in regional media attention. The show, "Random Chauvinistic Thoughts About Freshman Girls" was described by the sanctioned theater group as "bad theater" who also said it was offensive. This of course was based on opinions formed by people who had never even read the script, but who didn't like the title. Interestingly enough, the message of the comedy was in accepting the differences and weaknesses of others, because we all share those weaknesses in one way or another. They chose, instead, to do a play by a famous playwright known for cutting edge and sometimes offensive scripts. The coverage of the story was rampant, fueled by several editorial volleys in the campus newspaper, where folks from both sides exchanged less than friendly words. Brian even received positive endorsements from a Depauw English Professor who had actually read the show. Brian stayed out of the argument until the very end, writing an eloquent rebuttal to the student population that suggested people support both shows, yet another example of his policy of inclusion rather than exclusion.

After this story ran, curiousity about the show was intense. In addition to employing 17 first time actors and actresses, who had always been shut out of the college sponsored shows ruled by the theater clique, Brian also donated the profits from the show to charity, and did so in a unique way. It was decided that each person in the audience would put their name and a charity of their choice into a coffee can, and at the end of each show, after the curtain call, Brian would come out on stage, draw a name, and the money from that nights show would go to that charity.

The show was a fabulous success. The hall was filled to capacity every night, and the audiences roared with laughter and approval of this so called "bad theater." Even against the established show, the success of these Just Plain Folks was better than the normal attendance when only one show was presented. It handily beat the "official" show and garnered Brian attention from Television and Radio stations all through the midwest where he was called the "Next up and coming playwright in the midwest." Although Brian decided to pursue his love for music and songwriting after the show was over, the idea and success of what Just Plain Folks could do never left him. Now this inclusive and support oriented philosophy has manifested itself in his love of songwriting, and thanks to the power and freedom of the internet, large numbers of talented Just Plain Folks have banded together to create the current incarnation of Just Plain Folks, and has built the foundation for what surely will come to be known as the greatest songwriting and musical industry organization ever.

"We're All In This Together"