- How many times didnt we
play with our shadow, which some times grows up, sometimes becomes smaller!
How many times didnt we hunt it, didnt we run to surpass it, didnt
we stop walking, in order not to step on it! How many times didnt we
hide ourselves from the light, in order it stops following us!.....
- What gives birth to our shadow? THE
LIGHT. When there is light, there is shadow too. Light is the
source of the creation, of our existence. First, there was the sun.After
this, there was the fire. Today, in the play with the shadow, the electric
lamps can help as well. So much old is the existence of the shadow. It
is as old as the birth of the sun.
- The shadow always depends on the light
and on the presence of a 3D existence, which may be animate or not. Many
religions had given religious meaning to the shadow. The shadows kingdom
is nothing else but a synonym to the kingdom of the deads, while some
people call the deads «shadows of the past», and they refer to the shadows
of the deads, which wander especially in the night, inside or outside
of ruined houses.
- The falling of the shadow and the change
of its dimensions, according to the position of the sun, hides a magic,
not quiet clear meaning. In some countries of Africa, the noon is the
most demoniac time, because the sun is almost vertical, disappearing perfectly
- Thats why, the Theatre of Shadows has
so old roots, that they are lost in the depth of the centuries, and the
sources of its creation are as much dark, as the shadow.
- Several theories put its origin in India,
Iava or China. But, all the information indicate that it has come from
Asia. The oldest proves about this are included in the epic poems of MAHABARATA
and TERIGATA. But also, the subjects of the plays of Shadows Theatre
of Iava, Ceylon and Tayland come from MAHABARATA and RAMAGIANA.
- The Theatre of Shadows in India was
developed in about 200 before Christ. In China, it appeared in about 200
after Christ, by a magician, who -in order to comfort the King Vu-Ti,
who had lost his wife- represented her shadow behind a screen.
- The Chinese Theatre of Shadows has reached
to a marvelous degree of perfection and unrivaled sensitive quality, because
it embodies different Arts, like: painting, engraving, music, miming,
putting them together to a new expression.
- No other country has figures so beautiful
in elegance and delicate work, as China. Being worked with sharp knives
on leather of donkey, these figures combine skill and imagination. They
are about 33 centimeters high and they are composed of 11 parts: the head,
the upper and lower part of the body, two arms, two branches, two palms
and two feet.
- The screen is made of a blackberry paper
or of a clean white gauze, it is stretched on a bamboo framework and its
length is 8 metres. It is situated one and a half metres over the ground
and it is decorated with silk stuffs in both sides.
- In the performance five persons take
part: the player, the assistant and three musicians, who use several organs.
In older times, the figures were presented motionless on the screen. They
had nails and beak, as the souls of the deads they were representing.
The performance had a religious character. The players were priests, the
DALAG, as they were called. Their plays and figures, coming from their
religious adoration, were divinities or Dragons.
- Later on, the show stopped being an
exclusively religious art, and the figures obtained a human form and motion.
The performances could last up to 4 hours.
- The Shadows Theatre of China, Bali
and Iava may be the most famous in the world, but, except this, other
countries of Far East, like Tayland and Kambotzi, have also developed
this Popular Art with interesting variations.
- Travelling from Far East to Western,
the Shadows Theatre has its first natural station in Iran. There, the
plays of Shadows Theatre are known until the beginning of 20th Century.
Among all the Arabic countries of Middle East and North Africa, just only
Egypt gives us the first proves about Shadows Theatre, although sometimes
its signs make their appearance in the big Arabic civil centers, like
Vagdad and Damaskus.
- But, as we can be informed by several
sources, the Theatre of Shadows was the lovely entertainment of the citizens
of Algeria too, where someone named KARAGOUS was appearing as a great
patriot and revolutionist, who used to beat, in an insulting way, the
French colonists there. Except of Algeria, Tinisia and Morocco have their
own Theatre of Shadows. Among all these countries, Egypt is the only one
that has got the first written texts, which were played in Shadows Theatre
performances, in the beginning of 20th Century.
- There is a great disagreement among
the investigators of the Art of Shadows Theatre, in relation to the way
this art traveled to the West, arrived in Mediterranean and ,finally,
it terminated in TURKEY and GREECE. The most probable case is that, the
Shadows Theatre has travelled together with Gypsies from India.
- In relation to how the Religious Theatre
of Shadows succeeded to be changed and become comic, one of the many charming
legends says that, Hatziavat is a contractor in Bursa and he is building
Pashas Palace. Karagioz works there as a chief workman - carpenter and
he amuses the workers, telling them a lot of stories. So, they listen
to Karagiozs stories with great admiration and the building of the palace
cannot be finished.
- When Pasha discovers the reason of the
delay, he orders his officers to kill Karagioz. After that, however, Pasha
had remorses because of his crime, and he fell into deep melancholy. Hatziavat,
who had listened a lot of Karagiozs stories, cuts down a cardboard, gives
it Karagiozs shape and, miming Karagiozs voice, he presents on a white
screen the funny stories of Karagioz.
- So, this legend, as many others, indicates
the confusion that exists, as for the entrance of this Show in Turkey
or otherwise in Turkish ruled Greece.
- In Greece, the Theatre of Shadows
appears in 1841 in Nafplion, where, in some newspaper of
that time, there is a reference about Karagiozis. John Vrahalis
was the first Karagioziss player in Greece. Immediately, Karagiozis becomes
accepted and very beloved in independed Greece and wherever a performance
takes place, a lot of people come to watch it.
- In 1890 in Patra, Dimitrios Sardounis
(otherwise called Mimaros) will succeed -with great skill-
to absolve Karagioz from all the foreign elements. This great master and
mime ,Mimaros, managed to absolve Karagiozis from all the shameful words,
indecent phrases and movements and step by step he succeeded to give him
the form we see today.
- Through the years, Karagiozis is becoming
a satirical Theatre. Using persons of the old authority, like Pasha, Pashas
daughter, Vizier , Derven-Aga, who didnt exist in the Turkish Theatre
of Shadows, he satirizes the new authority. From place to place and according
to the needs of each town, new characters are added, and the strongest
of them continue to exist up to now.
- In Athens, Karagiozis makes his
first appearance in 1852 in a neighborhood of Plaka. As in Turkish
Karagioz, so in Greek Karagioz too, the feminine persons are very few,
because the player - who mimes all the voices- is a man. The same thing
used to happen in the Ancient Greek Theatre, where the actors were men,
who used to play the part of feminine roles too. There is a great similarity
between Karagioz and the characters of the Ancient Aristophaness Comedy.
Karagioz looks like the descendant of the slaves of Aristophaness comedies.
Besides this, on account of the steady characters, there is a great relationship
between Karagioz and Comedia De l Arte. The hero of Comedia, called PULTSINELA,
looks like he is the first cousin of Karagioz.
- Recapitulating our travel to the history
of Shadows Theatre, which may be small as for its extent, but it is large
as for its duration through the centuries and as for the distance between
the continents, we have to remember once more:
· The roots of Shadows Theatre are dark
- Now, well present to you some elements
about the Greek Karagioziss players: Karagioziss player is a great creator.
He makes himself his own figures, using leather of a big animal, he paints
and engraves them. He makes himself his own scenery. He plays the part
of all the voices and the plays, which are presented by him each time,
are not written in a text, but they have been written in each players
mind, since the time he was an assistant. That is, from mouth to mouth,
from the player to his assistant, the subjects of the Greek Shadows Theatre
have been spread and preserved up to our days. This means that the Greek
Shadows Theatre belongs to the Traditional - Popular Speech and it is
a Traditional - Popular Art, like the Folk Song. The Greek Karagioziss
player has the responsibility of the plays direction and music and he
prepares -with his own skill and imagination- the required effects. Besides,
the Greek Karagioziss player constructs by himself his own stage, giving
it his own architectural form. All the above elements indicate that Karagioziss
player must be an excellent talent.
- The most fertile period, where the Greek
Shadows Theatre flourishes is the period from 1915 up to 1950. In this
period, the most of the plays, which are presented up to our days, were
created and the greatest players were born. Each neighborhood had its
own theatre, where every night a lot of people, of any age, was crowded
together to watch the performance. The dynamic course of the show was
stopped violently by the technology and the development of Seventh
Art, of Movie and later on of Television.
- Today, in Greece, the Shadows Theatre
is in accession again, although without the classic summer theatres with
the ivy and the jasmine, a place from where the greatest players set out.
- Today, the Greek Karagioziss players
struggle for the creation of the National Stage of Shadows Theatre.
This stage will help and contribute in preservation and development of
such a great and important art: