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Theater Merit badge & Covid

Since many theaters (including Broadway) are closed, has there been any guidance regarding requirement 1

Blockquote See or read three full-length plays.* Write a review of each. Discuss with your counselor the plot or story. If you chose to watch the plays, comment on the acting and the staging

I know that reading full length plays is allowed, but there is still something to be gained from being able to see a performance. The requirement specifically excludes videotaped performances (such as Hamilton on DisneyPlus)

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Requirement 1 already has an allowance for reading plays instead of watching them, so there’s no real issue with covid preventing a Scout from completing it…

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Theater merit badge requirement 1:

  1. See or read three full-length plays.* Write a review of each. Discuss with your
    counselor the plot or story. If you chose to watch the plays, comment on the
    acting and the staging.

*Watching plays on television, video, or as a movie is not permitted.

From the BSA’s COVID-19 FAQ:

Q: Can merit badge requirements be adapted since some elements can’t be completed as stated right now?

The published guidelines for the methodology of the merit badge program and the role of the merit badge counselor is found in the Guide to Advancement, Section 7.0.0.0. It is important to remember that leaders and merit badge counselors must not make additions or deletions to requirements. The Scout is expected to meet the requirements as stated; however, in some cases, virtual “visits” may fulfill the intent of a requirement. When the requirement’s intent cannot be reached virtually, the requirements cannot be completed, and the Scout must wait to complete that badge/requirement. Merit badge counselors signing off on requirements must determine to the best of their ability if the Scout has demonstrated the intended outcome.
All existing youth protection policies and digital safety guidelines must be followed.

But Theater merit badge requirement 1 can be completed right now, because Scouts have the option to see OR read three full-length plays.

As long as they read three full-length plays, they could also watch versions of the plays they read on television or video (at the Scout’s option). Or they can wait until they are able to see plays in person again.

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How about this…Watch the play with the Closed Captioned on. Read as the play is being viewed.

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Reading closed captioning while watching on television is not the same as reading the play. Plays in written form typically have additional features, such as stage directions. Also, the merit badge requirements as written specifically do not permit watching plays on television, video, or as a movie as a way to complete requirement 1.

If a Scout wants to complete the merit badge now, but cannot see three plays in person due to COVID restrictions, then the Scout should read three full-length plays, as is permitted by the requirement. Or the Scout can wait until the COVID requirements are lifted, and see the three plays in person.

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So what you are saying is that due to Covid restrictions watching a play like Hamilton on Disney does not meet the the “intent” virtually?.

I don’t think it does. That requirement explicitly says watching the plays on TV isn’t OK, and it;s already giving the Scout a work around that’s easy to meet during the coronapocalypse – reading the plays.

@SteveCagigas, I think I’m going to be a dissenter on this. There is no doubt that the requirement under normal conditions prohibit watching on TV, video or movie. This wouldn’t even be an issue if not for Covid. With that being said the Covid FAQ asks:

Q: Can merit badge requirements be adapted since some elements can’t be completed as stated right now?

In part it states…

.“The Scout is expected to meet the requirements as stated; however, in some cases, virtual “visits” may fulfill the intent of a requirement. When the requirement’s intent cannot be reached virtually, the requirements cannot be completed, and the Scout must wait to complete that badge/requirement.”

That seems like a pretty clear alternative that applies to this subject. Under these prolonged times, I’m looking for reasons to make things happen rather than looking for a reason to not allow it unless it is blatantly obvious.

But I understand both sides.

Can the requirement be fulfilled right now as written?

Yes.

How?

By the Scout reading three full-length plays. Writing a review of each. And discussing with the merit badge counselor the plot or story.

Accordingly, the part in the COVID FAQs does not apply, because this requirement can already be fulfilled as written.

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Except the COVID FAQ says “in some cases, virtual vists may” not “in all cases”. The Theater MB explicitly excludes watching a performance via TV or video. Due to this exclusion, the exception does not apply.

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Whew. Tough room. :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

IMO in cases where the requirements are silent on virtual visits, you’re OK to allow them. In cases where it explicitly disallows them, you are not.

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Let me try a different thought. Do you consider musicals as plays? The reason I ask is some musicals such as Hamilton, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Les Misérables (newer version), Phantom of the Opera (newest version), Grease just to name a few are designed to be watched and much gets lost in the interpretation reading these musicals where some plays are better reads. I found plays like The Crucible, most Shakespeare plays were better to read…

There’s gotta to be a little wiggle room in this covid time.

The wiggle room is already in the requirement: the Scout can read three plays and then review the plays.

Nothing is stopping the Scout from completing the requirement, because there are two ways to complete it.

Yes, a musical is a type of play, as is stated in the merit badge pamphlet.

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summer camp rules? lol

I’ll take a different tack as well. Some theaters are struggling to put on live performances via internet watch parties. It’s not like they have whole camera crews at the ready. (They wouldn’t be theaters if they did.) It might be worth contacting schools are local companies to find out if and how they are producing virtual live productions.

Also, some companies are doing acts outdoors to small audiences. And, some companies have moved to larger venues to accommodate social distancing.

Do not substitute a recorded, or even a non-interactive live transmission, for attendance. Do keep an open mind to what is available for a scout to engage and enjoy theatre at this time.

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