Alternative Name(s): Stavros [in the Argo dialect]

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.

Stavrakas is a character in the centuries-old Greek Shadow Puppet Theatre (Karaghiozis) tradition. He represents the typical character in the town square of Psirris in Athens from 1910 until the beginning of the 1930s. He is a serious character of few words. He is a 'pretend' hero, he is underhanded and a blackmailer but he is a man of his word. He is constantly promising love to the detriment of women. He is also a boaster and therefore brags a great deal. Stavrakas takes part in comedies and in romantic dramas. In the play 'Karaghiozis the Servant' he portrays a potential suitor for Eleni [another Greek shadow Puppet Theatre character] to whom he professes his love, but he is really after her father's money. She also acts as if she is in love with him and behaves as though she is expecting an engagement ring. However, she has prearranged with Karaghiozis to go out to greet him when he arrives and when Stavrakas asks for a ring, Karaghiozis starts beating him up and runs him off.

This puppet is connected by two puppet rods so that it can be manipulated on the stage. One moves one hand which is slightly longer and holds his string of worry beads. The other is at the shoulder so that it can be moved as required.

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

Physical Description

A two-dimensional acrylic figure, jointed at the waist, with a multiple-jointed arm which includes a flexible vinyl extension piece. He wears a black hat which is a separate piece, attached by a rivet so that it is hinged but not removable. He wears a brown jacket, red sash and blue trousers. A gun is tucked into the sash.


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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