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Theatre Screen - White Cotton, Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre, 1960s Object Reg. No: SH 911413

This screen was commissioned in the 1960s by the Greek puppeteer and popular artist Abraam (Antonakos). He purchased the materials and gave it to an unknown dressmaker to prepare it by hemming it all the way around at her workshop in the same neighbourhood where Abraam lived. Abraam used the curtains during performances in Greece during the 1960s. These curtains and most of the puppets and accessories in the collection were brought to Australia by Abraam Antonakas for his performances at the Astor Theatre in Melbourne in 1977. He then left the collection with Dimitri Katsoulis who used them in all his subsequent performances in Victoria and in South Australia from 1978 to 1991. Dimitri Katsoulis migrated to Australia in 1974 to escape a regime that repressed Greek artists. He had trained in Greece with theatre and film companies as an actor and technician. A master of the traditional Greek shadow puppet theatre, his performances explored contemporary issues such as the isolation of migrant women and children. Unable to obtain funding and support, he returned to Greece in 1991, leaving his entire collection to the people of Victoria. It includes 32 shadow puppets and around 170 props, set backdrops and technical tools and stage equipment. Dimitri has since returned to Melbourne and assists the Museum to continue to document this rich art form within both local and international contexts.

This screen was used in all the traditional Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre performances as part of the intergral infrastructure of the stage construction. There is no performance without the screen. It is the white screen that forms part of the stage. The screen is nailed to the wooden frame which is formed by the two horizontal and two perpendicular beams of the stage. It is the surface against which the backdrops of the Karaghiozis' shack and the mansion were placed. The shadow puppets were manoeuvred in the space in between. The screen needs to be tightly stretched in order that the puppets can be manoeuvred with ease. It is lit by the lights at the top of the stage and the footlights (bottom row of lights).

Information supplied by Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre master Dimitri Katsoulis, 2007.
A rectangle of plain white cotton fabric,hemmed at each end, with selvedges on the two remaining sides.
Statement Of Significance:
This collection of puppets, props, stage sets, and technical tools and equipment relating to traditional Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre is unique in Australia and rare in international public collections. The history of Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre, its puppet characters and the methodology of its performance has been recorded in partnership with the puppet master to whom the collection belonged. The collection is highly significant both as documentation of an important cross-cultural, centuries-old art form, and as an example of the transnational migration of cultural activity between Greece and Australia. It is a collection which was created and performed in Greece and Australia from the mid to late twentieth century, by two puppet masters, who transported the tradition between two countries. Abraam Antonakos came to Australia in 1977 to perform the puppet theatre and then deposited the puppets with Dimitri Katsoulis, who had migrated to Australia in 1974. Dimitri's story becomes one of migration experience, cultural maintenance and adaptation, and finally return migration and the discontinuance of this cultural art form in Australia.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 1910 mm (Height), 4560 mm (Width)

More information

Tagged with: cultural maintenance, greek communities, greek immigration, karaghiozis theatre, shadow puppetry, theatres, working life
Themes this item is part of: Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre - Dimitri Katsoulis, Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre - Lighting Technology, Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre - History, Working Life & Trades Collection
Primary Classification: CULTURAL IDENTITY
Secondary Classification: Ethnicity - Creative Practice
Tertiary Classification: puppetry
Commissioned By: Mr Abraam Antonakos, Athens, Greece, 1960
User: Mr Abraam Antonakos, Greece, 1960s-1977
User: Mr Abraam Antonakos, Victoria, Australia, 1977
User: Mr Dimitri Katsoulis, Australia, 1978-1991
References: http://www.cv.vic.gov.au/#; Malkin, Michael, R. Traditional and Folk Puppets of the World, A.S. Barnes & Co., Inc., N.J., 1977; Simmen, Rene, The World of Puppets, Elsevier, Phaidon, London, 1975; Hogarth, Ann & Bussell, Jan, Fanfare for Puppets!, David & Charles Publishers Ltd, USA, 1985; Yayannos, A & Ar and Dingli, J. The World of Karaghiozis, 1976

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