Drama starts at a young age these days. tabloid! speaks to the children at DUCTAC who did their drama and speech exams this week.

You know that feeling of pure anxiety before an exam when all eyes are on you? Your palms start getting moist and your cheeks flush pink as your heart beats faster.

It's something that everyone has to go through at one point in their life and now the turn has come for the drama and peech students at the Dubai Community and Arts Centre (Ductac) in Mall of the Emirates.

This week 70 students between the ages of five and 17 have taken their LAMDA (The London Academy of Music and Drama Art) exams, which they've been preparing for over many months.

Helena Panayis, founder of the Centre Stage Speech and Drama classes, was hovering outside the examination door waiting for her students to come out.

"I work on their interpretation of monologues and duologues. I also work with their pronunciation and diction, also the volume of their voice and building their chest capacity so they can sustain long phrases," she said.

LAMDA offers examinations in poetry, reading, communication, acting skills, mime and improvisation.

Panayis, who has been in Dubai for two years, was once also a student and eventually got her drama teaching qualifications from there.

"Parents initially want to involve their children [in drama] if they recognise that their children are theatrical and animated and like dressing up," she said.

Recognising the fact that some people might think children aged five might be too young to take such exams, she said that the examiner is highly qualified for the job.


"She knows how to approach the students. They take in a favourite toy so they feel at home. The examiner watches for eye contact, how they respond to questions and also they recite a small poem, which they have been practicing with me for a whole term," she said.

Thirteen-year-old Diana Al Nemer was waiting outside the examination room for her turn. She said: "I'm actually looking forward to doing it. It's a monologue. I have to memorise it and remember it by heart. Then they ask you a couple of questions, that's it."

Her story is about a girl expressing how it feels to end a relationship.

"I don't have to cry, but I feel bad about it," she said. And will she use her experiences to become a famous actor perhaps?

"I want to be a doctor before that and then maybe after, if I have my career," she said.

Twelve-year-old Ammar Busheri from the UAE had already finished his exam.

"When I was first told about the exam, I was really nervous. And then when I went in, it went well. It was about a boy who really hated his mum's new diet. He loves fast food. It's really just about having fun and building my confidence," he said.

Mahrukh Ali, a 13-year-old student also from the UAE said she was a little bit nervous before the exam. "But not a lot because I've performed on stage before in plays and stuff," she said.

She felt confident about her exam. "I thought I did well, but I just need to slow it down a bit cause I talked too fast. My story was about girl who has an invisible friend because her family is too occupied with other things," she said. Ali said she is using the classes to help her to speak better.

"I have speech problems, so did it to improve my speech and to build up my confidence."

Building confidence

It seems most of the students were doing the classes to improve their confidence and not so much to become superstars in Hollywood, a dream one might think many children have. But not these ones.

Thirteen-year-old Maajed Abdul Razak from the UAE said he thinks he did a good job.

"I think I might have passed. I did a monologue about a boy called Charles having an argument with his mother about being too nervous to perform in a school concert. Before I went in I was nervous, but when I came out I felt more relaxed.

"I'm doing it to build up my confidence so if I grow up and do presentations or something in my business, I'll feel confident and not shy," he said.