The Jacksonville Heritage Cultural Center is hosting a fundraiser for a future Jacksonville museum next month.
This particular fundraiser is coming in the form of a theater production by Ken Bradbury about the story of Robert Earl Hughes, once considered the world’s largest man, who hailed from Pike County.
Chairman of the Jacksonville Heritage Cultural Center Board David Blanchette explains how the center’s relationship with Bradbury originated.
“The Cultural Center and Ken Bradbury have a history that goes way back. Now that we have a new board, we approached Ken, and he said he had a brand new production about Robert Earl Hughes that he thought would be a perfect fit for the Heritage Cultural Center, so we’ve just been planning ever since,” says Blanchette.
Plans are for the new museum to be located at Jacksonville’s old post office building, located on West State Street near Hamilton’s. Blanchette says they hope to raise enough money to open the museum in the near future.
“We’re working with the Morgan County Historical Society, the owners of the building, and they’ve put a lot of money and time into refurbishing the building. Hopefully in the not-to-distant future, that building will be ready for the museum to move in and actually open for business,” Blanchette explains.
Bradbury, who was featured on WLDS’ AM Conversation yesterday, says this is a play he’s wanted to write for a long time.
“This is a play I’ve literally wanted to do for forty years, and I didn’t know how to do it. I was riding in a London subway and there was Robert Earl Hughes’ picture there, advertising the Guinness museum. I thought, ‘he’s world famous, but nothing’s been done about him locally.’ Scott Maruna wrote a great book about him, but nothing locally. The guy weighed over eleven-hundred pounds when he died, and I don’t want to pad a guy out on stage, so we’re doing it completely different. It’s reader’s theater, I found a boy from Chicago who has the same facial features, but he’s not large, and we’re going to show slides and a little video of Robert Earl during the play,” says Bradbury.
Blanchette says the board hopes to announce other fundraisers for the museum in the future. If you’d like to hear more about the production itself, you can hear our full interview with Bradbury online at WLDS/WEAI.com.