Evgenios Spatharis, the Greek master of shadow puppet theatre, has died days after sustaining injuries in a fall two weekends ago. He was 85.
Spatharis died in an Athens hospital, where he was being treated after falling from a staircase while he was on his way to a performance.
He was well-known throughout Greece for his performances of Karagiozi, who came to represent the virtues and vices of the average Greek.
Spatharis recently said , while touring a western Greek island, that the was warned not to present a local character or he would be beaten up.
“I played the character in the end, and they applauded me,” he said in a magazine interview earlier this month.
Shadow theatre is now a dying art form in Greece.
Spatharis bemoaned the lack of gifted performers, and called for the Greek state to help preserve the art.
He himself set up a shadow puppet museum at his home in Maroussi, north of Athens.
“Evgenios Spatharis served the shadow-puppet craft with remarkable dedication for decades,” Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said. “All of us who grew up watching the figures of these heroes bid farewell to someone very close to our heart.”
Spatharis was born Jan. 3, 1924, and followed his puppet master father, Sotirios Spatharis, into the craft.
From his first performance in 1942, he worked until the end of his life, most often as a solitary performer manipulating his puppets behind a small semitransparent screen.
He also collaborated with theatre and dance companies to expand the art form. He recorded 15 stories starting in the 1960s.