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Theater Merit Badge

theater merit badge

Theater Merit Badge – Imagine the magic of standing on a dimly lit stage, the soft rustle of a painted curtain behind you, and the expectant hush of an audience waiting to be drawn into a different world. Welcome to the enthralling domain of theater.

Earning a theater merit badge isn’t just about learning lines or standing in the spotlight. It’s a journey that encapsulates the essence of storytelling, teamwork, creativity, and discipline. This intricate process is woven together through various roles – from acting and directing to set design, lighting, sound, and even playwriting.

Whether you’re a budding actor, a hidden Shakespeare, or fascinated by the technical wizardry behind the scenes, the theater merit badge offers a captivating way to explore your passion and develop invaluable life skills.

So, are you ready to let your imagination take center stage and craft memorable experiences? If so, this guide to the theater merit badge will be your script to the fantastic, often underestimated, world of theater. It’s time to raise the curtain on your journey. Lights, camera, action!

Theater Merit Badge Requirements

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.
2. Write a one-act play that will take at least 10 minutes to perform. The play must have a main character, conflict, and a climax.
3. Discuss with your counselor the safety precautions that should be practiced when working in a theater to protect the cast and crew. Then do THREE of the following:
(a) Act a major part in a full-length play; or act a part in three one-act plays.

(b) Direct a play. Cast, rehearse, and stage it. The play must be at least 10 minutes long.

(c) Design the set for a play or a theatrical production. Make a model of it.

(d) Design the costumes for five characters in a theatrical production set in a historical time.

(e) Show skill in hair and makeup design. Make up yourself or a friend as a historical figure, a clown, an extraterrestrial, or a monster as directed.

(f) With your counselor’s approval, help with the building and painting of the scenery for a theatrical production.

(g) With your counselor’s approval, design the lighting for a play; or help install, focus, color, program, and operate the lighting for a theatrical production.

(h) With your counselor’s approval, help install, focus, equalize, program, and operate the sound for a theatrical production.

(i) Serve as the stage manager for a theatrical production. Document all cues and stage setups in your calling script.

(j) Serve as musical director for a musical theater production.
4. Mime or pantomime any ONE of the following, chosen by your counselor.
(a) You have come into a large room. It is full of pictures, furniture, and other things of interest.

(b) As you are getting on a bus, your books fall into a puddle. By the time you pick them up, the bus has driven off.

(c) You have failed a school test. You are talking with your teacher, who does not buy your story.

(d) You are at camp with a new Scout. You try to help them pass a cooking test. The Scout learns very slowly.

(e) You are at a banquet. The meat is good. You don’t like the vegetable. The dessert is ice cream.

(f) You are a circus performer such as a juggler, high-wire artist, or lion tamer doing a routine.
5. Explain the following: proscenium arch, central or arena staging, center stage, stage right, stage left, downstage, upstage, stage crew, flies, portal, cyclorama, stage brace, spotlight, floodlight, lighting control board, sound mixing desk, thrust staging, ground plans, and sightlines.

The Answer for Requirement Number 1

Three different plays: a classic drama (“Death of a Salesman”), a contemporary masterpiece (“Hamilton”), and a traditional Shakespearean work (“Romeo and Juliet”).

Play TitleReviewPlot/Story DiscussionActing and Staging (if watched)
Death of a SalesmanArthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” is a poignant exploration of the American Dream and the fragility of identity. It questions societal norms and expectations while engaging the audience in a profound emotional journey.The play follows the tragic story of Willy Loman, a failed salesman haunted by his past and consumed by delusions. His misplaced faith in charm and likeability, rather than hard work and innovation, leads to his downfall.The staging and acting were remarkable, with the seamless transitions between present reality and past memories highlighting Willy’s mental decline. The actors brought out the raw and human aspect of the characters, making the performance deeply moving.
Hamilton“Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda is a dynamic and ingenious fusion of traditional theater with hip-hop and R&B. It challenges the conventional modes of storytelling in musical theater.The story charts the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers. It weaves politics, personal relationships, and Hamilton’s ambition into an intricate narrative.The cast delivered their lines and songs with impressive energy, embodying the spirit of the characters they portrayed. The choreography and staging were innovative, and the use of a rotating stage was particularly effective.
Romeo and JulietShakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is a timeless tale of love, conflict, and tragedy. Its poetic language and profound themes still resonate today.The play tells the story of Romeo and Juliet, two young lovers from feuding families in Verona. Their love ultimately leads to their tragic death, which reconciles their families.The performance was riveting, with the actors portraying their roles with great passion and intensity. The set and costumes were designed in a way that brought Elizabethan Verona to life, while the staging effectively communicated the progression from love to tragedy.

Remember, the table above is just a sample and the actual review and discussion might require more in-depth analysis and personal opinions.

The Answer for Requirement Number 2

Title: “The Last Monarch”

Setting: A lush, yet diminishing forest. There’s a single, large, beautiful butterfly trapped in a clear jar in the center of the stage.


  1. Monarch – a sentient butterfly representing the last of its kind.
  2. Sam – a well-meaning, yet misguided 10-year-old kid.

(Play begins with Sam entering with the jar)

Monarch: (Voice over, as the butterfly flutters desperately) Why, young one, have you trapped me so?

Sam: (Looking at the jar, guiltily) I just wanted to keep you safe, I didn’t mean to hurt you.

(The conflict unfolds as they discuss the difference between protection and freedom)

Monarch: But is a life without freedom truly safe? Can one thrive when they are restricted?

Sam: (Confused) But… if you’re here, no one can harm you.

(Climax occurs when Monarch makes Sam realize the value of natural freedom)

Monarch: Yet, if I stay here, soon there’ll be no more butterflies for kids to marvel at. Isn’t it better to let me live free, keep the cycle going?

Sam: (Pauses, then tearfully nods. He slowly opens the jar to let Monarch free)

(Play ends with Monarch’s voiceover as the butterfly takes its flight)

Monarch: Thank you, young one. May you remember, freedom is life’s greatest safety.

This brief one-act play uses simple dialogue to convey a profound message about environmental conservation. The conflict is between safety and freedom, with the climax illustrating the importance of co-existence and natural balance. The characters and their dialogue can be further developed for a longer performance.

The Answer for Requirement Number 3

The safety precautions to be observed in a theater environment encompass a wide range of considerations. First and foremost, all theater personnel should be aware of the emergency exits and evacuation procedures.

There should also be a clear communication system for emergencies. On the stage, safety precautions include using tools and machinery properly and carefully handling props, particularly if they’re heavy or sharp. Additionally, cables and wires should be taped down or otherwise secured to prevent tripping hazards.

Lighting equipment can get extremely hot, so gloves should be used when handling lights. And in terms of sound, volume levels should be monitored to prevent damaging hearing. When building sets or handling scenery, proper lifting techniques should be used, and safety equipment such as hard hats should be worn when necessary.

Lastly, all materials used should be fire-resistant, and no open flames should be used on stage unless supervised by a trained professional.

As for the activities, let’s choose three and provide some basic guidance:

a) Acting a major part in a full-length play or in three one-act plays requires dedication and commitment. It involves memorizing lines, understanding character motivation, and developing a strong stage presence.

d) Designing costumes for five characters in a historical theatrical production requires research into the era, creativity to translate that into visually appealing costumes, and practicality to ensure the actors can move and perform in them.

g) Designing the lighting for a play or helping to install and operate the lighting for a theatrical production demands technical knowledge of lighting equipment, an understanding of the mood and tone of each scene, and the ability to collaborate with the rest of the production team.

ActivityRequirements and Steps
(a) Act a Major Part– Understand the character and script
– Memorize lines
– Rehearse regularly
– Perform in the production
(d) Design Costumes– Research the historical era <br> – Sketch costume designs for five characters
– Source or create the costumes <br> – Fit the costumes to the actors
(g) Design Lighting– Understand the script and director’s vision
– Plan the lighting for each scene
– Install and focus lights
– Program and operate the lighting during the production

The Answer for Requirement Number 4

Let’s go with option (b) – As you are getting on a bus, your books fall into a puddle. By the time you pick them up, the bus has driven off.

As this is a mime or pantomime activity, all actions will need to be conveyed through body movements and facial expressions without any spoken words. Here’s a description of how you might perform this:

  1. Start by showing yourself walking to the bus stop, looking at your watch as if checking the time. You’re holding books in your arm.
  2. As you approach the bus, show your surprise as the books slip from under your arm.
  3. Show the books falling (mimicking the action without actual books) and you reaching out to try and catch them but failing.
  4. Bend down as if picking up the books from a puddle, showing a look of disgust or disappointment as you realize they are now wet.
  5. As you finally gather the books, look up with hopeful expression as if expecting the bus to be there.
  6. Show your surprise and disappointment as you realize the bus has driven off. Look at the distance the bus has gone, then at your wet books, then back at the distance.
  7. End with a sigh, maybe a small smile and shake of the head, indicating acceptance of the unfortunate situation.
ActionPantomime Description
Walking to the bus stopShow yourself walking, checking the time on your watch, holding imaginary books.
Dropping the booksShow surprise as books slip, reach out as if trying to catch them.
Picking up the booksBend down, show a look of disgust or disappointment as you “pick up” the wet books.
Realizing the bus has leftLook up with hopeful expression, show surprise and disappointment as you “see” the bus driving away.
Accepting the situationLook at the “distance” the bus has gone, then at your wet books, then back at the “distance”. Sigh, maybe smile and shake your head in acceptance.

The Answer for Requirement Number 5

Let’s explain these terms related to theater and stage production:

Proscenium ArchThe proscenium arch is the visible stage frame, traditionally a large archway, in front of the stage that separates the stage from the auditorium.
Central or Arena StagingIn this type of staging, the audience surrounds the stage, which is in the center. It’s also known as “theatre-in-the-round”.
Center StageThis is the middle area of the stage. It’s often the focus of the action.
Stage Right/LeftFrom the perspective of a performer facing the audience, “stage right” is their right side, and “stage left” is their left side.
Downstage/UpstageDownstage refers to the part of the stage closest to the audience, and upstage refers to the part of the stage furthest from the audience. These terms originate from when stages were raked or slanted for better audience viewing.
Stage CrewThe stage crew are the individuals who work behind the scenes to manage scenery, props, and lighting, among other things.
FliesThe “flies” or “fly system” is the area above the stage where scenery and equipment can be lifted out of sight.
PortalIn theater, a portal is a framed opening that serves to reduce the size of the proscenium or stage opening.
CycloramaA cyclorama is a large curtain or wall, often concave, positioned at the back of the stage. It can be lit to represent sky, open space, or other backgrounds.
Stage BraceA stage brace is a device, usually adjustable, used to support and stabilize scenery on a stage.
SpotlightA spotlight is a strong beam of light that illuminates a particular person or area on stage.
FloodlightA floodlight is a broad-beamed, high-intensity light used to illuminate large areas of the stage.
Lighting Control BoardThis device controls the intensity, color, and other aspects of stage lights.
Sound Mixing DeskThis is a device used to adjust the balance of different sound sources (like microphones, instruments, etc.) in a live performance.
Thrust StagingA thrust stage extends into the audience on three sides and is connected to the backstage area by its upstage end.
Ground PlansA ground plan is a top-down view diagram of the stage design, showing the placement of props, scenery, and other elements.
SightlinesSightlines are lines of sight from the audience’s perspective to different parts of the stage. Good design ensures all important action is visible to the audience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can I earn a theater merit badge if I can’t act?

Acting is just one aspect of theater. The theater merit badge also includes activities like directing a play, designing a set or costumes, showing skills in hair and makeup, helping with scenery or lighting, and serving as a stage manager or musical director.

Why is safety important in theater?

Safety in theater is essential to protect the cast, crew, and audience. Precautions include knowing emergency exits and evacuation procedures, proper use of tools and machinery, securing cables and wires, using protective equipment, and using fire-resistant materials.

What is central or arena staging?

Central or arena staging, also known as “theatre-in-the-round,” is a type of staging where the stage is in the center, surrounded by the audience.

What does stage left and stage right mean?

Stage left and stage right are directions from the perspective of a performer facing the audience. Stage left is their left side, and stage right is their right side.

What are ground plans in theater?

Ground plans are top-down view diagrams of the stage design, showing the placement of props, scenery, and other elements.

I'm a Mechanical Engineer and lifelong Eagle Scout. My passion for scouting guides my writing, aiming to inspire fellow Scouts on their path. Thanks for reading, and best wishes on your journey to Eagle!