Kosmas Panagiokas, the young man who revived Karagiozis, exclusively at the Hellenic Daily News

By Evageline Plakas

New, handsome, talented, sensitive, socially conscientious, fond of traditions and at the same time fashionable. These features should have someone to carry on Karagiozis’ “heavy” legacy on his back, and that is exactly the same person we met in the face of Kosmas Panagiokas.

The modern karaoke player, who turns many parts of Greece and nostalgically fills the oldest, enthusiastically younger ones, exalting in his way a “forgotten”, in many ways, in the 21st century, Art, that of the Shadow Theater.

Hellenic Daily News met him as a member of the Aegean Group this year, the people who turn our border islands and offer their services – and entertainment is of course one of them.

But how … such a young man, in the age of internet, multimedia, Netflix and virtual reality, turned to the “old” karaigiozis?

“I loved him, although my parents did not want to watch him. 14 years ago, I responded to an ad asking for a shadow theater assistant. Since then, over the past 17 years, I have been a karaoke player”, says Kosmas at the Hellenic Daily News.

And he explains, for his beloved hero: “I will tell you the most popular version of Karagiozis. It is an actual person, who during the Ottoman rule was in the palace of the Sultan. He was very beloved and popular to everyone, he never went unnoticed. So popular, at some point the Sultan ordered to kill him! Then the whole palace fell depressed. And somewhere there was the legend with the sheet and the candle, and the shadow theater. ”

Kosmas reminds us of the characters: Hadjivavatis, his passionate friend, his three children, Solleris, Svolas and Pitsikos, and humble Aglaia, his wife. Characters and plot, in the stories of the talented young man, adapted to the new era.

“Other stimuli, other jokes, another form of witty 50 years ago, and another one today. I do not naturally alter the content, I respect it because it is a tradition, but at the same time we are evolving, “he says.

Watch a sample of his work on the video:

In our question, why did Karagiozis in the last few decades stay in obscurity, Kosmas gives us his version:

“When society is prospering, Karagiozis has no reason to exist. When there is judgment and financial problems, we … remember it and resort to it again. This is because Karagiozis is the voice of the wicked, the poor. Whenever there was a crisis in Greece, then Karagiozis was up”.

But its role, as it should be in all forms of Art, is moralistic.

“Society and the public need not only the Karagiozis eyepiece. Good laughter and so on, but when we have small children, then we have to be able to wake up – and cultivate their consciousness … ”

And one example of the modern version of Karagiozis, as Kosmas tells us, is this. “Karagiozis beats and the world laughs, but this is the bullying of our time! I, through the Shadow Theater, try to pass some moral principles. Solidarity, help, care, that we have the hands to embrace and not to strike. These I try to pass, the right behavior towards our fellow man ”

And of course, faithful to the spirit of his protagonist, Kosmas finally advises us: “we laugh at everything, so we do not have to cry with everything”

View the message of Kosmas Panagiokas to Greeks and readers of Hellenic Daily News:

Hellenic Daily News is pleased to announce that it is the media sponsor of the next Karagiozis performances!