William Kuhlke

Professor Emeritus
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William Kuhlke considered himself “a professor first, then an actor.” Given his convictions of theatre as a liberal art and “social service,” he taught Russian theatre/drama, dramatic theory, and improvisational acting for over thirty years at KU and earned two distinguished teaching awards (1990). As a scholar, he translated Tairov’s Notes of a Director (1983) among other publications. As a professional actor, he performed in I’m Not Rappaport with Moses Gunn (1989), at regional theatres (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, 1984), and in made-for-TV movies, such as Mary White (1977), The Day After (1984), and The Burden of Proof (1992). He believed theatre’s greatest importance lay “in helping make people aware of what it’s like to be a human being.” Since his compelling performance as Prospero in The Tempest (1992), the William Kuhlke Humanitarian Award (Prospero’s staff) has been awarded to graduating students who capture his enduring compassion for humanity.


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