Greek Master Puppeteer Evgenios Spatharis passed away after sustaining injuries in a fall en route to a performance last week.
The world has lost another master of a historic, traditional form of puppetry.
Eugenios Spatháris – one of the world’s best-known shadow puppeteers – died yesterday at the age of 85. Eugenios was a second generation puppeteer who followed in his father Sotiris Spatháris footsteps working as a puppeteer in traditional Greek shadow theatre. He gave his first performance in 1942 and had been performing ever since. According to reports, he died from injuries sustained in a fall while en route to performance last week.
This is sad news for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that traditional Greek shadow theatre is a dying art form. Shadow puppetry has a rich history in Greece; it first arrived there from Asia in the mid-15th century and for decades after Greece first achieved independence it was the nation’s only form of public entertainment. Sadly, it’s popularity has declined somewhat during the past several decades and Eugenios had fought hard to preserve it as part of Greece’s cultural history.
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is much video of Eugenios Spatháris’ work available online. The only clip I could find was this one, which has his voice and some of his puppetry remixed in to a dance video.
Rest in Peace Eugenios Spatháris.
11/5/09 Update: Seems that the AP and several other media outlets may have been misspelling Eugenios’ name “Evgenios”, an error I didn’t catch until it was pointed out by Alan Cook (there is still a little debate about the proper English spelling of his name). To see more of Eugenios’ work visit his YouTube channel.