Swarthmore College theater professor Allen Kuharski has been named winner of the 2006 Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz Award by the Polish chapter of the International Theatre Institute-UNESCO in Warsaw. The award is given in recognition of his accomplishments in "raising awareness of Polish theatrical culture around the world."
Kuharski, associate professor of theater, resident director, and theater department chair at Swarthmore, is a leading authority on contemporary Polish theater and dance. He has created and led a variety of programs and actions that have linked the college to leading theater institutions in Poland. Among them: a reciprocal residency program with the Silesian Dance Theater of Bytom, Poland, two campus symposiums at Swarthmore about Polish dance and theater, and the selection of acclaimed Polish choreographer Jacek Luminski to serve as Swarthmore's Lang Visiting Professor of Social Change in 2001. In addition, Kuharski serves as co-director of Swarthmore's Semester Abroad in Poland program, which has sent two dozen Swarthmore students to Poland since its establishment in 2000.
Among his other contributions, Kuharski in 2003-04 served as a member of the International Planning Committee for the centennial celebration of Polish playwright Witold Gombrowicz. Also, with the support of Swarthmore's William J. Cooper Foundation and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Kuharski in 2000 launched the award-winning English-language stage version of Gombrowicz's novel Ferdydurke with Teatr Provisorium and Kompania Teatr of Lublin, Poland, using his own translation of the Polish text. The production has toured the U.S. four times in addition to appearances in Poland, Sweden, Egypt, Germany, Norway, and the U.K.
In 2002, the Polish government named Kuharski winner of its Order of Merit in Polish Culture for his contributions to U.S.-Poland cultural exchange.
As winner of this year's Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz Award, Kuharski will travel to Poland in October as a guest of the Polish Ministry of Culture and the National Theater. He will receive a diploma and a sculpture by a contemporary Polish artist at an event held in his honor.
Kuharski earned a B.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, during which he won a Fulbright Scholarship to study theater in Poland. He has taught at Swarthmore since 1990.