Young actors on the stage for Children's Day

Comedy has a message for adults in the audience too.

DUBAI // Students will take to the stage today in a comedy play as part of Unicef's Universal Children's Day.

Slumber Party Confessions features five girls who meet at a sleepover. Zareen Khan, the work's writer and producer, said the characters represented children living in a multicultural society and the challenges they encounter growing up.

"It highlights issues of self-esteem and self-image, and raises awareness through asking questions and discussions, most of which we have all faced growing up," said Ms Khan, the co-owner of Woman 2Woman, a Dubai social group.

The play will be performed at the Emirates Theatre at the Emirates International School and will be repeated on Saturday, when the UN occasion will be observed globally. Universal Children's Day was established to promote co-operation, mutual exchange and the welfare of children around the world. The UN's Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted on November 20, 1959.

The performance will follow a day of activities including nutrition and fitness tips, with proceeds going to Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs.

The one-hour production has a message for the audience but is packaged as light entertainment, Ms Khan said.

Zoya, one of the characters, is the "mother" of the group, and is played by Bianca Pergher, a 12-year-old from the American School of Dubai. She said the characters resembled some of the girls at her school.

"The play basically looks at how girls discover friendships by sharing their secrets and what they want out of life," she said. "The message we want the audience, especially girls our age, to take back is 'love yourself no matter who you are and find support for yourself through friends'."

Hana al Madhoun's character, Donna, is the fashionista of the group. She is filled with confidence but lacks empathy, and is obsessed with appearance.

Hana, 11, believes it is just a facade and that Donna has the same fears every schoolgirl faces.

"I've never played someone who is so loud and can be nasty at times," she said. "Studying the character made me realise that girls who show off tend to do so because they are afraid of showing their true feelings."

Teresa Pergher, Bianca's mother, said the challenge for parents in the Emirates was to keep children grounded in reality.

"It is also about nurturing friendships, especially in a cross-cultural atmosphere," she said.

"With the mall culture and everything so easily accessible, the line between needs and wants tends to blur with kids and that is where parents must instil those values at a young age."