Pride and Prejudice For two evenings, 19th century England came to rural Tai Po, complete with curtsies, sedate baroque music and sumptuous period costumes. Within six months, the Hong Kong Institute of Education has staged two plays: Macbeth in November and Pride and Prejudice last week - thanks to the husband and wife team of Matthew and Christina DeCoursey, formerly of Toronto. As a nod to contemporary culture, the cast was multi-racial and multi-cultural, with a tribal prince from Ghana, beauties from Shanghai and smart kids from England and Australia. There was a Filipino assistant director and stage veteran Brian Eaton lent the whole thing a much-admired sardonic British authenticity. The play seems tailor-made for Hong Kong. It is about marrying into money, finding a good catch, and thumbing your nose at your less fortunate neighbours. The two productions have created a cultural buzz at the institute. The feel for drama is gaining traction there. The other tertiary institutions should envy the quality of the campus cultural experience. The evening's educational value cannot be over-emphasized. It was gratifying to see scores of secondary students riveted to their seats, reliving a story they had studied. An alien world had suddenly become delightfully accessible. For the student actors, gone are the painful pronunciations, and stiff postures of the initial audition. The students took to the stage, brimful of confidence, and carried away by the tart dialogue. They lived the language and entered into a world long ago and far away. In recent years, the institute has attracted quality students from the mainland. Jojo Chen, from Shanghai, played the lead role with regal bearing. She is destined for Oxford next year where she will major in anthropology. Stella Qiu will join the Chinese University's East-West Drama programme in September. Both can graduate from the institute with fond memories. Local students also came into their own, several with flawless fluency and spellbinding performance. Michelle Sit, a second-year English major, played the imperious Lady Catherine De Bourgh to the hilt, cut glass English accent and all. And who can forget the bumbling, toady Mr Collins, played deliciously by Oswald She? The student actors, off stage, declared that they intended to take their dramatic skills into the classroom. If all the world's a stage, then they are taking to it with gusto. For the audience the evening was bliss. For student teachers, the theatre was a transformational experience.