This lighting equipment was purchased in Melbourne around 1978 by Dimitri Katsoulis 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.

This is a collection of globes, sockets and frames which comprised the stage lighting for performances of the Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre by Dimitri Katsoulis. The item featured in the attached image is part of the socket board for the stage footlights. In order to illuminate the bottom part of the stage, the footlights were placed on a wooden board along the length of the stage, approximately 30 cms from the screen in front of the puppeteer. This helps to create the shadows which light the puppets operated by the puppeteer behind the screen.

In order to perform shadow puppet theatre, it is essential to have an artificial light source. During the early days of shadow puppet theatre, oil lamps were used, as were acetylene lamps. After World War II in Greece, even the smallest villages were able to provide electric lighting for performances, although this development also made staging the shows more complicated and more expensive.

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

Physical Description

Collection of globes, sockets and frames which comprise the stage lighting for performances of the Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre. The item featured in the attached image is part of the socket board for the stage footlights.


This collection of puppets, props, stage sets, and technical tools and equipment relating to tradition 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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