The gray-brick Tianleyuan Theater is located in the capital's Qianmen area, a popular tourist area. The theater has a history spanning more than 200 years and reopened in March 2019, after six years of renovation.
Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang (1894-1961) performed there for four years, from the tender age of 17. Cheng Yanqiu (1904-58) also premiered four of his classic Peking Opera shows at the theater from 1923 to 1927, including The Legend of Hongfu and A Red Mole. Both Mei and Cheng were known for their danroles, that is, men who played female characters in Peking Opera pieces, because, at the time, women were forbidden to appear onstage.