Dimitrios Sardounis

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Mimaros was the nickname of Dimitrios Sardounis (1865 - 1912) an early master of the "shadow theatre" (Greek: Θέατρο Σκιων) which brought to life the humourous adventures of Karagiozis, a wretched hunch-backed Greek, who tries to make his way through life in the Ottoman Empire, often with hair-brained schemes that, more often than not, backfire.

Sardounis was born in Patra in 1865, the illegitimate son of a woman from a well-to-do family. He lived in Messolonghi until 1876 when his step-father died and then returned to Patra.

Sardounis studied Byzantine music and became the head cantor at the church of St. Andrew. He was the first to convert Karagiozis into a family-oriented popular theatre (ca. 1890). For this he is considered the first teacher of the shadow theatre in Greece.

Among Sardounis' innovations were:

  • The extension of the screen from 2 to 4 metres
  • Turning Karagiozis into a hunchback with a long arm
  • The character of Veli Gekas
  • Creating the characters out of cardboard instead of tin

He died in 1912. After him, his pupils Theodoros Theodorellos, Yiannis Roulias and Memos Christodoulou continued their mentor's work and spread Karagiozis throughout Greece.