Alternative Name[s]: Paragga [an old run-down house/shack]

This backdrop 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 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 backdrop of a house was used in the centuries-old Traditional Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre performances. It was used as the home of Karaghiozis, it is half falling down, with a hole in the roof, it is a 'home of the starving' as Karaghiozis says sarcastically. It was placed opposite the palace on the left side of the stage and featured in all Dimitri's performances. It forms part of the permanent scenery in all the plays, both in comedies and in social plays, however, in the heroic, religious or mythical plays it is removed after the introduction and it is replaced with a different type of building or the side of a mountain, depending on the play.

Information supplied by Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre master Dimitri Katsoulis, 2007.

Physical Description

A piece of cotton fabric, completely covered with a painted design showing a wall, door, window and part of the roof of a rundown cottage. The wall is orange, the roof red, the door, shutters and water storage jar green. The door and shutters are falling off their hinges. A tree standing next to the cottage supports a roof beam. Bricks show through the plaster.


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.

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