Accepted Paper:

Shadows of Culture in Traditional Greek Shadow Puppetry  


Theodoros Kostidakis (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)

Paper short abstract:

The psychological aspects of the cultural phenomenon of Greek traditional shadow puppetry: The latter is understood as expressing and challenging its social and historical context. The main focus is the art-form representing the shadow at a personal, cultural and psychological/philosophical level.

Paper long abstract:

Traditional Greek shadow puppetry (Karagiozis) is an oral tradition of collective art-making which is a vital part of Greek cultural heritage; still alive today. Historically, it has played several roles within the cultural context of which it stands both as an expression and critical reflection. The current paper examines the psychological aspects of this cultural phenomenon. Both the art-form and its protagonist, Karagiozis, are viewed regarding their role of bringing the audience in contact with the neglected (shadow) aspects of personal and collective narratives.

Drawing from methodological approaches of phenomenology and autoethnography, as well as theories of dramatherapy, analytical psychology, theatre and philosophy of space and place, this paper examines the different layers of meanings that seem to have been attributed to those 'shadow' aspects: a)personal: based on my experience of shadow theatre as a shadow puppeteer, a member of its audience and a student dramatherapist using shadow puppetry; b) cultural: the role of Greek shadow puppetry in the sociological and historical context, as well as the formation of cultural identity; c) psychological/philosophical: consideration of principal structural elements of this art-form and their connections with the performer's experience. Starting from a myth about the beginning of Greek shadow puppetry, the character of Karagiozis is analysed and understood as a crystallisation of the aforementioned layers of meaning.

Panel P059
"Culture in Action": Between Performance and Ethnography