This ladder was made in 1977 by the Greek puppeteer and popular artist Abraam (Antonakos) in Melbourne for his performances at the Astor Theatre in Melbourne in 1977. It was a late improvisation just prior to the performance. He then left it, and most of the rest of 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 ladder was usually used by Karaghiozis, a character in the centuries-old Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre (Karaghiozis) tradition. It is a prop in certain comic plays. Usually Karaghiozis throws it at unwelcome visitors from the roof of his shack ('paragga', old run down house). In the play 'Karaghiozis the Doctor' when the Pasha threatens to knock down the shack because Karaghiozis refuses to come out, Karaghiozis yells out to him 'I will throw the ladder at you' and he throws it at him from a hole in the roof.

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

Physical Description

A stiff cardboard ladder with five rungs stapled to the uprights, dark cream in colour. The uprights are slightly off parallel. Four rungs each have a ruled line across, in ball-point pen.


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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