Lao is the Chinese word for old. Laosheng is the term for middle-aged or elderly men. His white beard (wai) indicates his older age. In civil plays, the laosheng takes the part of the high-ranking official or scholars in the prime of their life and they are expected to attain gentle and polished manners.

A little boy plays with a mask customarily used for Thanksgiving for the Gods, usually performed in the afternoon.

The performance details are usually hung at the side of the stage. It informs the actors when to go on stage and what to do on stage.

This sheng actor acts as a member of the imperial guard.

An older actress is going over her script backstage.

Tiger-headed shoes (hutouxue) studded with sequins. These shoes are for sheng actors only. Traditionally they are embroidered instead of studded with sequins.

An old desk of an actress. These old wooden boxes and desks were passed down since the opera troupe started.

The headgear, normally used for brides in Chinese Opera, lies on a make-shift table.

The drummer is like the conductor of a Chinese Opera orchestra. He instructs the musicians when to play and when to stop. He has to watch the performance closely to give correct instructions.

The foreground shows a musician playing the Chinese laba (or oboe) while observing the performance. The laba first appeared in the Wei and Jin period (200 – 420 A.D.), and is popularly known as the suone or haidi. This double-reeded instrument is often used to imitate high-spirited horses.

The audience watches a show. Chinese Opera audiences are shrinking each year, as young people do not enjoy such performances. To their opinion Chinese Opera is for the elderly.

An important warrior general (changgao wusheng) with command flags tied behind him. His pennants strapped to his back announce that his authority comes from the emperor himself. His costume normally comes with three to four-inch high, satin platform shoes.

This old actor is resting backstage, waiting for his turn to perform.

Chinese opera actors and actresses use water-based face paint to create their characters. Here seen are the brushes they use for applying their make up.

A dan actress rehearsing her script.

A view from the percussion (wuchang) section of the stage.

Actresses waiting for their turn on stage.

A dan actress sticking pieces of hair onto her cheeks. The tafa is the basic hairstyle worn in female roles.

The jing role or hualian is also known as the Painted Face. Some unique characters in Chinese Opera are performed with painted faces such as Justice Bao and Cao Cao. They wear imposing, heavy ornate costumes with elaborate martial garb and thick-soled boots, the jing role dominates the performance.

An actor enjoying his break.

A dan actress is adjusting her hair before donning her outer costume layer; her hairpieces are already attached to her forehead. A performer’s hairstyle will instantly tell a lot about his or her social status, character and abilities.

The backstage is always busy with people making up, changing costumes and hanging out costumes to dry.