Harlequin # 1

Hallequin 2014

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The classical appearance of the Harlequin stock character in thecommedia dell’arte of the 1670s, complete with batte or “slapstick”, in origin a magic wand used by the devil character to change the scenery of the play.[1] (Maurice Sand, 1860)

Harlequin (/ˈhɑrləˌkwɪn/; Italian: Arlecchino, French: Arlequin) is the most popularly known of the zanni or comic servant characters from the Italian Commedia dell’arte. It was introduced by the successful Italian actor Tristano Martinelli in the 1580s, and it became astock character after Tristano’s death in 1630. The derived genre of the Harlequinade, where the Harlequin character takes center stage, came to England in the 18th century (John Rich).

The Harlequin is characterized by his chequered costume. His role is that of a light-hearted, nimble and astute servant, often acting to thwart the plans of his master, and pursuing his own love interest, Colombina, with wit and resourcefulness, often competing with the sterner and melancholic Pierrot. He later develops into a prototype of the romantic hero. Harlequin inherits his physical agility and his trickster qualities, as well as his name, from a mischievous “devil” character in medieval passion plays.

In Victorian England, the Harlequin was routinely paired with the clown figure. The clown with his brutishness acted as a foil for the more sophisticated Harlequin. The most influential such pair were the Payne Brothers, active during the 1860s and 1870s, substantially shaping the 20th-century “slapstick” genre.

Charleston Fantasy

Shadows on the wall Charleston SC

Shadows on the wall, Charleston SC

The Charleston in the tourist’s fantasy is a city that’s done and gone. What today the vacationer sees South of Broad street is a pastiche of the romantic, chivalrous Old South. While still charming as a well-cultivated nostalgia industry and fortress of the lost cause, Charleston struggles to maintain an illusion. Riding the horse-drawn carriages and hearing the guide’s tales of Old Charleston, the modern tourists, while respectful, are unmoved by the city’s past. But the carriage drivers  nonetheless press the tourists toward awe and acceptance of Charleston’s special place. The murders, divorces, and political scandals of Antebellum’s Holy City, while all true, are not uniquely Southern. Why shouldn’t these houses give up their toxic family secrets? Any city in America has them. But the last weapon in his arsenal, as the guide reminds us, are Charleston’s ghosts haunting the nocturnal streets and alleys, what the locals call the “night walkers”. There’s that cadre of Citadel cadets, who fired on Fort Sumter and started a war, now proud watchmen of the darkened city.

So, while the Charleston visitor yearns for the authentic city, he’s confronted by a flood of souvenir seekers disgorged daily from the tour ships docked on the wharf. It’s not long before the tourist gives up on the fantasy and settles for today’s Charleston and, being a good sport, is willing to go along with and to some extent enjoy the charade of nostalgia.