We do a lot of hikes in the mountains in the northwest of Beijing, and there are quite a few ancient villages in the valleys out there. After we learned that one of the villages has an active group of performers, we decided that we should definitely have them put on a show for us!
They perform a style of traditional opera called Hebei Bangzi. It's very similar to Beijing Opera--to the untrained eye and ear, at least--and uses many of the same stories. The leader of the group was trained at the old school in Changping, and is trying to keep this traditional art alive by passing on his knowledge to others in the village. Without some younger students, the tradition in this area is in a bit of danger - the youngest in the group is 56 years old; the oldest is over 80!
They put on a great performance for us, using the courtyard and stage in the village temple to do a show with two acts, accompanied by an amusing band of gaffers with a variety of instruments.