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Puppet - Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre, Alexander the Great, early 1960s Object Reg. No: SH 911443

Alternative Name(s): Megalexandros

This puppet was made in the 1960s by the Greek puppeteer and popular artist Abraam (Antonakos) in his Athens workshop, and used in performances in Greece during the 1960s. This and most of the puppets 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.

Megalexandros [Alexander the Great] is is a character in the centuries-old Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre (Karaghiozis) tradition. He is stately and commands respect. He is just, proud and is protector of the weak and the scorned. Megalexandros features in two or three stories as well as in one comedy. The best known play is 'Megalexandros [Alexander the Great] and the Cursed Snake'. A huge snake appears in the spiderweb-filled cave and spreads fear and death. The bravest men confronted it but lost their lives. In order to save the public, the Vizier (the Veziris - originally a Persian term for a high-ranking political, and sometimes religious, advisor or minister, often to a Muslim monarch such as a Sultan) offered his daughter and many thousands of pounds to whoever could kill it. Megalexandros [Alexander the Great] appears, confronts the snake and in a very fierce battle he kills it with the help of Karaghiozis. Megalexandros [Alexander the Great] leaves. Karaghiozis tells Hatziavatis [another Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre character], who enters and sees the dead snake, that he killed it himself. They take it and go to Sarai, but the Vizier (the Veziris) is under the impression that they are trying to trick him, so he orders Thervenagas another Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre character] to start beating them both up.

Megalexandros [Alexander the Great] is one of the more complex puppets to operate, which is why it was manipulated only by the Master Puppeteer. It is connected by two puppet rods [there are many examples in the collection], one on its shoulder and one on its hand which holds the spear or sword.

Information supplied by Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre master Dimitri Katsoulis, 2007.
An acrylic figure of a man, jointed at the waist, thighs and multiple joints in one arm, which has a leather extension. He wears a Macedonian military uniform of yellow helmet and breastplate, yellow, white and blue tunic and pink leggings. He carries a spear.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 83.50 cm (Height), 27.00 cm (Length)

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
Artist: Mr Abraam Antonakos, Athens, Greece, 1960-1969
User: Mr Abraam Antonakos, Athens, Greece, 1960-1977

Abraam made the puppet in Greece, and used it in performances during the 1960s and 1970s; and then in Victoria in 1977.
User: Mr Abraam Antonakos, Victoria, Australia, 1977

Abraam made the puppet in Greece, and used it in performances during the 1960s and 1970s; and then in Victoria in 1977.
User: Mr Dimitri Katsoulis, Australia, 1978-1991

Dimitri was given the puppet by Abraam in 1977 and then used it in his performances in Australia until 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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