Besides being an accomplished professional, Robert considers himself a life-long student of puppetry. To that end, he has embarked on a quest to explore its unique, international heritage. Bringing to life Southern Italy's singular form of puppet theater has been an endlessly fascinating and personally rewarding project.
In history, legend, literature and even puppet theater, Orlando Furioso - the virtuous knight in service to King Carlo Magno - has been featured loud and strong. Clad in shining armor and bearing a heavy sword, the 8th Century hero's exploits have been celebrated in story and song for hundreds of years. He's fought his way through epic battles, conquered mammoth giants, slain ferocious dragons and felt the deep agony of a broken heart.
As a marionette incarnation, his peek of popularity occurred in 19th Century Sicily, where he was a leading character of the Opera dei Pupi. Night after night, audiences would flock to a multitude of family run puppet theaters to see the next installment of his many adventures.
Today, along with other puppets that portray his battle-worn comrades, enemies and loves, he is largely relegated to displays in museums, and represents a traditional - if old fashioned - form of entertainment. But the clang of his sword and his honor-bound mission still ring true.
For this production, Robert's efforts have been sparked by a collection of antique marionettes that he inherited some years ago, made by the prominent puppet maker and performer Sara Goldsmith, back in the 1930's.
This special project features a little fellow who has entertained generations of delighted audiences for hundreds of years, and has secured for himself international fame. It's true! He has meant so much to people, and is so many things at once: a scoundrel, a clown, a family man, a lazy good-for-nothing, a hero (well, that much is up for debate), that his popularity has no bounds. But one thing is for sure, he is a part of the cultural fabric of Greece, and always will be.
He and his friends are called "shadow puppets," quite a unique form of theater. They are merely two-dimensional and appear on a large white screen, lit from behind. Their translucent colors are vibrant, and the effect is magical.
The plays in which Karaghiozis appears are as numerous as the puppeteers who have brought him to life throughout history. In Karaghiozis the Baker, a job in his friend, Hatziavatis', bake shop leads to one comical disaster after another as customer demands, a fiery oven and even a stray cat cause problems.
Robert has applied his knowledge and years of expertise to create and perform this new show, to honor the heritage of Karaghiozis and make him available to audiences of all ages .