A letter to a friend (6A Suen Wan Ki)


Topic: A world-renowned play called “The Sound of Music” is now recruiting actors and actresses. Your best friend Pat is thinking of going for the casting, but they do not know the drama well, and they do not know what they should do to prepare for the casting, and she writes to you to seek your advice. Write a letter in reply to give advice on how Pat can prepare for the casting through sharing your understanding about the play and your experience in the drama team.

Dear Pat, 

Just got your letter about your intention to cast for “The Sound of Music”. I’m so glad that you took the initiative and gained courage to go for casting of the protagonist, Maria. Don’t be over-stressed at the moment even if you don’t know the play well. Let me, the “master of drama”, offer you some help.

First and foremost, it is essential to understand the plot and messages of the play. “The Sound of Music” was set in the beautiful landscape of Switzerland, sadly, during the pre-World War Two period. Despite the seemingly devastating historical background, the play entails a warm, loving and joyful vibe. It puts an emphasis on the tension and the distance of the General (the leading male character) from his six children, and how the main character, Maria, using the power of music and her unique charisma, bridges that distance and strengthens the family bonding. “The Sound of Music” also stresses that family love and unity always prevail over hatred and threat posed by war. So, basically, this play is a comfort that brings warmth and touches the strings of the audience’s hearts. In my opinion, the actors’ enjoyable and engaging performance is way more important than the dramatic elements of the play given this background. 

After having comprehended the story, you need to delve into the role of Maria. When you prepare for the casting, I think there are three things you can do for practice and rehearsal. 

The first thing is to research the character, Maria. I remember clearly that my coach in the drama team reminded us to research the character before reading the scripts and going on stage, especially for some world-renowned plays, like “The Sound of Music”. Don’t be mistaken, what I mean research is not about any academic study or history of the play, it’s the personality and features of the character. Like where does Maria work before she takes up the job as a caretaker at the General’s mansion? How are her interpersonal relationships with other characters? What kind of impression does she give to others? These can give you a hint of the characteristics of Maria, so that you can try to act out her vibe. To my understanding, Maria is a very lively and joyful person, who has great passion and talent for music. In fact, it is her jolly image that resolves the hostility of the General’s children against this new caretaker and even brings Maria close to them, by which they eventually become friends and family. Maria is also caring and tender, especially when she is looking after the children. She understands their loneliness and desire for their father’s love and attention. Because of this she thinks of different methods to improve the relationship between the children and the General, such as leading the children to bring up a puppet show. Based on this, I suggest you put yourself into Maria’s shoes and try to think and behave like her. For instance, when you’re put into a certain situation like seeing the children feeling depressed, if you were Maria, what would you do? This can be quite challenging. I’d say your imagination and understanding of the character matter. It is critical for you to act out Maria’s charisma in order to succeed in the casting.  

I believe you’ve probably known that “The Sound of Music” is a popular and privileged musical, so there is no doubt that the casting requires showcasing your singing skills. I am confident that you can handle this well, as you possess such a beautiful voice. In fact, Maria is depicted as a great singer with excellent composing skills and an angelic voice. You might consider checking out some clips online and get an insight of how to sing well on stage and sing like Maria. This is also a skill I learned from the drama team when we were doing the Broadway musical, “Cats”. I suggest that you limit the scope of research to the actress Julie Andrews. She is a widely-celebrated singer and also acted in the movie version of “The Sound of Music”. Try to pay extra attention to her pronunciation of words and expression of singing. You can even mimic her breathing methods while singing live, and her interpretation of all the songs in the play. You might begin by looking at the clips of her performance of the song “My Favourite Things”. Julie Andrews sang brilliantly in the movie and it was actually the first paradigm of Maria’s friendship with the children. I think it will be a good start.

The last thing I can think of is practicing your facial expression and body gesture. Doing drama is very different from acting in movies. The stage is quite distant from the audience. So, you’ll need to magnify every expression and action in a drama in order to impress and strike the audience. To be more explicit, imagine that you’re waving hands at someone. In our daily lives, you normally move only your front arm; but in a play, on stage, you have to move the entire arm, maybe adding a little hopping, to let the audience acknowledge your action. The easiest way to acquire these skills, though it might sound silly, is to exaggerate all your actions during daily peer conversations. I bet your classmates will understand this and enjoy your exciting and energetic expressions very much. Perhaps send me a video of you talking to your teachers in a dramatic way later. 

I think that’s all the advice I can offer. Thank you for trusting my experience despite the fact that I’m only a member of the school’s drama team, not even close to an amateur actor. I’m so glad and happy to see that you’re courageous to step out of your comfort zone, and attempt to cast for the role of Maria. I’m super confident that you’ll excel in the casting and even become the best Maria ever, for you possess the characteristics of being full of charm and energy, just like Maria in The Sound of Music. 

All the best to your casting! Don’t hesitate to contact me anytime if you need further advice or practices. Remember to write back about your progress of preparation and the result of casting. Believe in yourself and ace it! Can’t wait to hear from you! 

Best wishes,