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The Theater of Shadows, the well-known Greek Karagiozis from the Far East, reached the Balkans and Greece through the Arabs and the Turks. Southeast Asia’s most famous shadow theatres are those of Java, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Bali and Laos. The source of their themes is the tales of Rama, based on two Indian epic poems, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

At the end of the 19th century, the Turkish Karagiozis had become Hellenized and could clearly express the popular Greek soul. Leading karagiozo-players contributed significantly, such as Mimaros in Patras, Antonis Mollas in Athens and Memos in Thessaloniki. Today Karagiozis, despite the adverse – for any traditional art – living conditions, the imposition of mass media and the prevalence of new forms of entertainment intertwined with technological development, continues to participate in the cultural events of Greek society. In contrast, the unique entertainment and its pedagogical character and, of course, its easy uptake by children have contributed to turning it into a spectacle whose primary audience is the minor audience.

One of the unique features of the genre is orality. This element, combined with the fixed morphology and typology, ensures in the Shadow Theater, on the one hand, the contact with tradition and, on the other hand, the immediacy of the communication between the puppeteer and the audience. This improvisational possibility allows this theatre to function pedagogically and to create a climate of immediacy and communication. The lack of specific texts and the codification of the genre leaves considerable room for the thematic modification of traditional drama. Thus this theatre becomes a genre easily accessible to students and able to serve their entertainment needs.

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