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About Dare Drama Acting Academy

“I learnt that it’s ok to make mistakes and when we make mistakes in drama it’s funny, which has taught me that there’s nothing wrong with mistakes”  – Rosie, age 13 (Essendon)

Overcoming anxiety to speak up, ask for help, or put your hand up and volunteer an idea  – this all takes courage.  When you dare to do something new, when you dare to do something risky, it’s equal parts scary and exciting. It’s that first initial ‘daring to do’ that is scary.  When you dare to try, dare to put yourself out there, dare to take that leap, well – that’s where the gold is. But sometimes it’s not, and that’s when we need the courage to stand up and dare again, and again. It’s that resilience to never stop daring that Dare Drama is all about. 

Dare Drama classes in Melbourne’s northern suburbs provide recreational acting lessons which include public speaking and confidence building skills to kids and adults.  With weekly drama classes in Essendon, Coburg, Craigieburn and Sunbury, our aim is to help students to slow down and tap into their emotions, and have the confidence to articulate their needs everyday whether at school, at work, or in personal relationships.

We are not a talent school and do not audition our students – everyone is welcome just as they are. Our students are children and adults, kids and big kids, the young and the young at heart who enjoy the  fun and challenge of non competitive, community theatre. Whether natural performers wanting to further their drama education and develop a solid foundation for further dramatic studies or careers,  looking to develop social skills and self confidence, or still searching for that activity they really love, Dare Drama after school classes provide a safe space for students’ self expression, where they can develop public speaking and theatre skills which are transferable to all other facets of life. Students in the workforce learn to use stage etiquette and improvisation guidelines to increase their interaction with clients and to  improve their professional business presentations. Students of all ages learn to be kinder to themselves and each other, and a sense of humour is strongly encouraged.

Our contemporary curriculum is developed by a team of creatives with input from all our students. That’s right, our students all have a say in what they want to learn and topics they want to cover. Dare Drama is associated with other independent drama providers both in Australia and overseas (Drama Notebook, Theatrefolk, and Pioneer Drama) to name but a few, who share resources, techniques, and professional development ideas to continually update and enhance  teaching practices and deliver a current and original curriculum. 

“DARE Drama is next level”  – Inge, 16 (Mill Park)


Joanna Melo Howard – Chief Executive Drama Queen and Director

Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to read over our site and a little about my background. I’ve been teaching both children and adults since 2003, and teaching Drama since 2010. My formative drama teaching years were spent managing an International Drama School in Perth and then Melbourne, and the experience made me realise that I have a passion to help people of all ages develop a sense of self belief and to let go of their self doubts.  

I have an appreciation for well placed apostrophe’s (!!!) as well as other grammatical goodies, and spent 10 years teaching English as a foreign language after completing my CELTA in Sevilla, Spain. While in Spain, apart from perfecting my siesta skills, I also headed Government Funded Language Immersion summer camps for 500 children at a time (ermahgerd). I’ve also been a Theatresports judge at a yearly Interstate Highschool Competition – so fun!

A love of putting on interactive events to remind stressed and busy ‘grown ups’ that play is an important part of life, led me to complet a BA of Events, Sports, and Recreation Management through Edith Cowan in Perth (graduating Dux of my class, thank you very much). One of my personal projects is being part of the international group of Insecurity Guards as ‘Officer  Sparkles’.  Along with a couple of other IGs, I was flown to Christchurch, NZ in early 2019 to patrol a community street festival where we spent the three day event asking people to write down their insecurities and deposit them in the Insecurity Safe™ which was later ceremoniously burned.

I started Dare Drama as a way to continue my confidence coaching through drama – there are few things sadder to me than a child or adult standing on the sidelines of life, too afraid or self conscious to take hold of and enjoy opportunities that are presented. I believe that confident people inspire others and accept everyone’s “weirdness”, including their own. 

I hope to see you soon round the studios!

– Joanna (aka Sparkles)

When I first heard of drama i thought ‘Hmmmmm not for me’ but after watching that play I’m like ‘I’ve gotta have a go! That was so much fun’.” – Small sibling of a Dare Drama student (Homeschool Group)


“I’ve never come across a teacher that I like. You, you’re ok.”  – Mason, 15 (Craigieburn)

Congratulations on an outstanding presentation.

I love your attitude with the children like when you said not to compare them because they were all here for their own reasons. By you putting the children first has really allowed them the confidence and support to excel in their performance.  I have not seen any other program – in the arts, sport, or any other sector – that provides such a wonderful environment for kids to learn and grow.

And I have to say, every parent knows that when there is a kids performance, it’s great to see your own kid but then having to sit through every other kids’ performance is usually pain staking. But not a Dare Drama performance!  Last night I legitimately enjoyed and laughed through the whole show! Those kids are legends and I can’t wait to see them all preform again next time!

Thanks for a wonderful year and an exceptionally enjoyable show!

Morgan, Tiny Triangle parent.


Dare Drama is fantastic for kids who don’t have a good drama program at their school, or are not being chosen for whatever reason to be in their primary school play. They only get one opportunity each year and once it is gone, it is gone.
Jo assesses the kids at Dare, and each one gets a speaking role. They have a good experience and gain confidence in the process. It’s worth paying the money for as it also means they have improved social and performing skills (and it doesn’t rely on their primary school).

Amanda, Tween Triangle parent.

“THANK YOU to you, Joanna,  and the utterly amazing young people in D’s class. He told me how supported and safe he feels in being able to express and present his creative ideas without judgement or negative criticism from anyone around him.

Well done to you for establishing and providing such a genuine, respectful and positive creative culture”.

– Amy, Tween Triangle parent.

“Drama came into B’s life when he could not find an activity that he was good at! He stuck at this and thoroughly enjoyed each class. I can’t put into words how much these classes have helped B especially with his ADHD. It was the first activity I felt at ease dropping him off too and know he could ‘fit in’, my heart was no longer in my mouth.

Your passion and devotion to all your students is an absolute credit to you and I hope you know the difference you a make. You have been a big part of who he is, so thank you, Joanna”.

– Sue, Teen Triangle Parent

“Congratulations on an outstanding performance. I have not seen any other program – in the arts, sport, or any other sector – that provides such a wonderful environment for kids to learn and grow.”

– M, Tiny Triangle Parent

“Dare Drama’s program has been wonderful for my child’s confidence and self-esteem. I really appreciate their focus on inclusivity and being true to oneself. Highly recommended.”

– Kara, Tween Triangle Parent

“Jo is just amazing. Our three kids have benefited greatly from her wonderful teaching. Life skills, public speaking and confidence in all aspects have improved in leaps and bounds. Cannot recommend Dare Drama highly enough, 10 out of 5 !”

– Nadine, Essendon Teen Parent