An English theatrical entertainment developed in the 18th Century by the actor John Rich, who specialised in the acrobatic and pantomimic portayal of Harlequin. Scenes of the character's comic courtship of Columbine interspersed the performance of a serious play, which they served to satirise. By the beginning of the 19th Century, these largely silent harlequinades had become a separate form, with spectacular scenic transformations and magical fairy-tale locations, and as such were the immediate precursors of the English pantomime.

Har"le*quin*ade` (?), n. [F. arleguinade.]

A play or part of play in which the harlequin is conspicuous; the part of a harlequin.

Macaulay.

 

© Webster 1913.

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