Eugenios Spatharis[Also spelt Evgenios Spatharis]
BirthAthens, Greece (1924)
DeathAthens, Greece (2009)
Greek shadow puppeteer, the best known among the masters of karaghiozis (Modern Greek: Καραγκιόζης). Trained by his father, Sotiris Spatharis (Σωτήρης Σπαθάρης,) Eugenios took up the torch in 1942 and became famous for making Greek shadow theatre recognized abroad. In 1953, he performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, followed by performances in Canada and Cuba. Then, in 1958, he presented at the International Festival of Shadow Theatre in Brussels and, the following year, he was at the Festival in Paris. In 1961, he took his show to Cairo and, in 1962, won the first prize at the World Festival of Shadow and Puppet Theatre in Rome. The recently established Greek television started broadcasting his shows in 1966. During the 1970s, Eugenios Spatharis continued to tour Europe, performing in Poland, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland. In 1980, an international festival paid him homage in Paris.
Other than the traditional pieces of his repertoire, like Alexander the Great and the Cursed Serpent (Modern Greek: Ο Μέγας Αλέξανδρος και το καταραμένο φίδι), which he presented in the early years, Eugenios Spatharis adapted several comedies for the shadow theatre, such as Aristophanes’ The Frogs (1980) from the ancient Greek repertoire. He also designed costumes for the actors’ theatre, illustrated books, and his paintings were exhibited both in Greece and abroad.
This tireless ambassador of the karaghiozis continued to participate at international events right up into the early years of the 21st century, without ever forgetting his role in the teaching and training fields. He founded, in fact, a school for shadow puppeteers in Denmark in 1980 that still exists. And, in the spring of 2004, he was invited to Paris to impart his art to young puppeteers.
In 1995, Eugenios Spatharis established the Spathario Museum of Shadow Theatre in collaboration with the Municipality of Maroussi, near Athens. The Museum houses a large collection of figures made and collected by his father and himself.