Karen Vuranch brings the passion and dedication of a renowned West Virginia author back to life.


Karen Vuranch has been portraying beloved West Virginia writer Pearl S. Buck for over 20 years. In 1992, for Buck’s 100th birthday, Vuranch joined a project for the now-shuttered College of West Virginia that was based on the author’s story. Since then, she has been fascinated with Buck’s life and work.

Buck was the third character Vuranch created out of 13 she now portrays. The process took about a year and a half. She started with an autobiography and then read the author’s works to study the arc of her life. “I tried to get and see the big picture of her life with her words in my head,” Vuranch says. Once she knew how to frame the events, she could decide which stories her character would tell.

Vuranch has portrayed Buck throughout West Virginia and all over the country at colleges, libraries, schools, and other public performances. “Anywhere that people want a program that is entertaining but is also engaging intellectually,” she says.

When acting, she uses a lot of Buck’s words. Buck was a passionate humanitarian, and Vuranch brings that passion forth when she talks about the injustices, especially during World War II, that fueled the Civil Rights Movement. “Pearl has some really amazing rhetoric against racism, and I love to do this character for that reason,” she says. “Racism is such a powerful issue right now in America and I love to bring that forward with what she says.”

This is what draws Vuranch to Buck’s character: She shares the author’s belief in the power of language. “She has become an alter ego for me.” wventerprises.com

written by DEMI FUENTES RAMIREZ

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