This telephone was made in 1975 by Dimitri Katsoulis at his home in Port Melbourne and used in 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.
The telephone was used as a prop in the centuries-old Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre (Karaghiozis) tradition. It was used in comedies and attached to a prop table. In the play 'Karaghiozis the Secretary', uneducated people go to see Karaghiozis so he can write or read some correspondence for them. He has a telephone on his desk as an accessory.
Information supplied by Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre master Dimitri Katsoulis, 2007.
A two-dimensional acrylic telephone, coloured red and out- lined in black. A wide strip of grey adhesive tape is attached to the base on one face, and on the opposite face a strip of brown paper, partly torn off, is attached. The handpiece, also red-painted acrylic, is attached by a length of white string and is supported by a wooden rod. The handpiece is attached to the rod by a tiny strip of leather, a nail and a metal ring, to allow a freely moving hinged joint. there is also a thin metal rod, roughly twisted at one end to form a handle and at the other end, a nut and bolt on a freely-moving wire loop to attach the rod to the telephone.
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.
Type of item
14.5 cm (Length), 10.8 cm (Height)
Supporting rod is 35.0 cm long, 0.5 cm diam. Handpiece is 7.0 cm long and 2.5 cm wide.
[Link 1] 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