A spiring actors from nearly 100 secondary schools attended a workshop to hone their skills in preparation for a radio drama contest. Songbirds Radio Drama Competition was organised by RTHK Radio 4 and funded by the Education Fund. 'It is not just a drama competition. We also like to integrate the ideas of art and culture and a wider knowledge of life into the storyline so that the message can be acted out and presented to young people,' programme director Richard Tsang Yip-fat said. Songbirds presenter and writer Dino Mahoney gave participants tips on how to make a radio drama recording. He explained how to manipulate the voice to denote different characters and moods, the effect of using pauses and the trick of adding some words and sounds of the actor's own to the script. Four Songbirds actors gave a live demonstration of an extract from a Songbirds story to illustrate various acting skills. Samuel Yau Kwan-shun, 15, from La Salle College, said Tad - the character he plays - was a cheerful guy, so he developed the ability to smile and talk at the same time. He also speaks faster and with a higher pitch to indicate happiness. Felix Tam Lap-fung said his secret to playing Dennis was 'to feel dumb' and to slur some of his words. Ninety-two local schools and six international schools took part in the preliminary rounds and 12 teams went through to the finals. Anna Shum An-na and Maryanne Lui Man-ying, second formers from Good Hope School, an English-medium school, said it was not difficult to stage a radio drama. They had had a lot of experience of the stage, joining drama competitions and acting out radio dramas in the classroom, English teacher Catherine Muir said. 'The girls love doing it. It's fun. And it's really getting them to read out loud and getting them to put more effort into the words. 'Though the level of English of the girls in the school was very good, their tone and pitch need a little more work to be more like a native speaker.' Fourth formers Joe Lam Lai- fun and Angel Tam Wing-man from Carmel Bunnan Tong Memorial Secondary School, a Chinese-medium school, said they enjoyed the acting workshop. 'I find Dino very funny,' Wing-man said. 'I've learnt how to understand a character's personality,' Lai-fun said. Asked whether they felt pressure from competing against English-medium schools, Lai- fun said it was not a problem. 'That I don't mind. I don't care about winning, I just want to have fun. 'What's more, this gives us a chance to speak English so we can improve our oral skills.' Wing-man said: 'It has nothing to do with being a Chinese or English school, it depends on the individual.' English teacher Cathy Shiu Wing-hoi said: 'I hope my students will, through participating in this activity, learn that English is in indeed a lot of fun. 'It gets them out of the mind- set that English is boring stuff.'