Karen Vuranch



Karen Vuranch is a storyteller, actress, historian and writer.  Using solid historical research, she creates characters that bring history to life. She has toured internationally with ‘Coal Camp Memories’.  Based on oral history, it chronicles a woman’s experience in the Appalachian coalfields. ‘Homefront’ is a play based on oral history she collected about women in World War II. 

Karen also recreates historical figures:  author Pearl Buck; labor organizer Mother Jones; humanitarian Clara Barton, and Indian captive Mary Draper Ingles, Grace O’Malley (a 16th century Irish pirate) and Wild West outlaw Belle Starr, the First Lady of Food, Julia Child, Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons, beloved children’s author Laura Ingles Wilder and her newest character, American literary giant Edith Wharton.   ‘Potluck:  Stories and Songs about Women, Wisdom and Food’, an innovative show about the contributions of women in a community, is performed with singer/songwriter Julie Adams and poet Colleen Anderson. 

Karen is a traditional storyteller and has been performing in schools, libraries and communities for over 20 years.  Karen has presented many workshops on both the techniques of storytelling and how to collect oral history. She participated in the Nu Wa Storytelling Exchange to China in 2002, when 34 American storytellers visited the storytelling village of Gengcun. Karen currently serves as faculty at Concord University teaching Theater and Speech and courses in Appalachian Studies. She has been honored by many organizations including Tamarack, The West Virginia Storytelling Guild, The West Virginia Legislature and the West Virginia Division of Tourism. 

Ways to Connect

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The 12 Days of Christmas is a popular holiday song. But have you ever really thought about the gifts that person gave? What does one do with 7 swans a-swimming?

Actress and storyteller Karen Vuranch of Fayetteville believes she knows what a smart, resilient Appalachian woman would do with such gifts!

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Merry Xmas!  How many times do you see that during the holidays?  And every time it appears, I hear someone complain that we should not take the Christ out of Christmas!

But putting an X in place of Christ is not sacrilegious at all. In fact, it is an ancient and sacred way to honor both Christ and the early Christian martyrs. 

Storyteller, playwright and actress Karen Vuranch of Fayetteville has toured internationally - sharing the area's rich Appalachian culture and history.

Here she shares a favorite Christmas story based on a traditional Scottish ballad.

Anna Kucsma

Here's a glimpse into Christmases past -

Fayetteville actress, playwright, and historian Karen Vuranch brings us a lovely passage from a piece written by Richard Matteson called Christmas in the Appalachian Mountains.

It's a time when snow glistened across the roof of a small log cabin perched on a rocky slope, and smoke swirled out of a chimney from the old pot-bellied stove.