• A forerunner of the English pantomime. It evolved from JohnWeaver's Italian night scenes, which derived in turn from thecommedia dell'arte tradition.

    The harlequinade began with a curtain-raiser, in which twolovers were transformed by a fairy into Harlequin and Columbine. In themain part of the entertainment they had to escape from Columbine's father,Pantaloon, and his servant Pierrot.

    In 19th-century pantomime the curtain-raiser gradually became a fullstory featuring fairytale characters and the antics of Harlequin were reducedto a short afterpiece. The harlequinade sequence was finally droppedduring the early 1940s.