Here's the story:
Qin Xianglian's husband Shimei Chen left for Beijing to attend the national examination which is held once a year for emperor to pick up the new officers nationwide. However there hasn't be any news from him since he left. While hometown has been suffering from years drought, mother-in-law and father-in-law both died from hunger. So Xianglian took her son and daughter to beijing to find her husband. When she arrived Beijing, she heard that Shimei Chen her husband won examination champion and he was asked to marry the princess by emperor. On the date of his birthday, Xianlian sneak into the palace to meet Shimei. However he pretended that he didn't know her at all, even evict her and the son and daughter out of the palace.
The vizir of three dynasties Yanling Wang heard about this. He advise Xianglian to pretend as a countryside lady to sing the lyrics about their story in the banquet feast in front of Shimei Chen. Still Chen didn't admit that he knew her. He evicted Xianglian out of the Beijing city and gave a order to his general Qi Han to secretly kill Xianglian and the children so that no one will know his past anymore. Qi Han followed Xianglian to the temple, where Xianglian told the truth to him with tears, Qi Han couldn't have the heart to kill them. He decided to let them go. But he felt he didn't fulfill the order, he suicided after they left.
With too much grief and indignation, Xianglian went to Zheng Bao (Who is a national judge very famous for incorruptibility and fairness). Zheng Bao accepted the case and requested Shimei and Xianglian to attend the court. Shimei thinks that he is royal, so he chop logic to defend himself. Also his imperial aunt, mothers in law all came to thread Zheng Bao. However Zhengbao didn't listen to them while insist to sentence Shimei death by hay cutter.
This is a traditional repertoire which artists in every generations often perform. In the 1950s, Beijing Opera Troupe in Beijing has been sensational performances, because several arts masters have participated in the performance. One such as Mr. Ma Lianliang played by Wang Yanling, Chen Shimei played by Mr. Tan Fuying, Bao Zheng, played by Qiu Shengrong, Qin Xianglian played by Mr. Zhang Junqiu,imperial grandmother by Mr. Li Duokui, shopkeepers played by Mr. Ma Fulu, Hanqi by Mr. Tan Yuanshou play , imperial aunt played by Miss Zhao Liqiu. It was a huge blast with all those famous Peking opera masters as well as shinning stars.It was one big successful event in Beijing opera circles. Each performance, the applause continued unprecedentedly. It not only displayed the charm of a powerful national art and improve the Chinese Beijing Opera's international reputation, but also set a brilliant example for the great corporations between acting crew, which is still the much-told story of Beijing Opera circle.
I will try to take pictures :-)