I must admit, this the timing of this post is somewhat ironic: here I am, recommending how to get cheap theatre tickets, having just forked out £140 at the Barbican. Admittedly, it is to see 4 plays as part of their Shakespeare’s Great Cycle of Kings, so like £35 a ticket isn’t too bad, AND it is featuring David Tennant’s revival…at least that’s what I’m telling myself to justify spending that much! ANYWAY- on to thriftiness.
As you may know (and as the above suggests), theatre can be really expensive. Like, I love Book of Mormon, but have you seen the price of tickets?! And don’t even get me started on Broadway prices. And for students and other young people like myself, going to the theatre can take a big chunk out of our pay cheque: ticket prices + transport to/from + dinner + merchandise = just enough to cover rent…and guess I’ll be shopping in Poundland for dinner! Mmm cheap/knock off protein shakes. Basically, Kristen Wiig sums up exactly what life is like for young, theatre enthusiasts:
But don’t fear: this weekly ‘Thrifty Tips and Tricks’ will help you find the best ways to see theatre for the best price! And this week, I thought I’d start with some tips for doing London theatre for under a fiver 🙂 Do bear in mind, most will require booking in advance!
Shakespeare’s Globe: £5 standing tickets
Want the best view in the house? And only for £5? Then you’re in luck! Shakespeare’s Globe has 700 tickets available for every performance, and only at £5 each! I would have said the best seat in the house, but you are actually standing for the 3 hours you are there watching. I know what you’re thinking, ay there’s the rub…
NOT THAT KIND OF RUB! 3 hours may sound like a long time, but let me break it down for you: the first half is always about 1 and a 1/2 hours, then you have an interval where you can sit down in the yard, and then the second half is only another hour standing. Plus, if you get there early enough, you can position yourself in front/next to the stage which you can lean on, OR head for the walls and lean backwards on them. Although your feet may hate you at the end, you will have the best experience: a great view, great acoustics, and you may even get to say hello to roaming actor, as they often exit/enter the scene through the audience. And if you get tickets for The Merchant of Venice, you may even get called up onto the stage to help out!
- Book early: these tickets sell out VERY quickly, so buy them in advance. You can either book online or in person- for the thriftier option, book in person as you don’t have to pay the booking fee.
- Wear sensible clothing: comfortable shoes are a must, and opt for a coat with a hood. It is an open air theatre, and if it rains, you will get wet!
- Eating nearby? Use Buzz: if you live or work in Bankside, sign up for a Buzz card. It gets you discounts at local restaurants, if you fancy a bite to eat before the show!
National Theatre: £5 tickets (Entry Pass)
If you are aged between 16-25, then sign up for Entry Pass. Now!
There are a number of similar schemes in London aimed at this young demographic, but in my opinion The National Theatre’s scheme offers the best discounts. It’s free to sign up, and comes with a whole lot of perks:
- £5 tickets to most shows.
- And if you want to bring a friend, it’s only £7.50.
- Access to workshops and other special events.
- Discounts in their cafe and the newly refurbished NT Bookshop (be sure to check out the ‘Shakespeare deaths’ section).
- £5 tickets for their backstage tours, which I have gone on and which I can thoroughly recommend!
I’ve been a member for about 2 years now, and can personally vouch for how great it is! The productions I’ve seen using the Entry Pass discount include Great Britain, Treasure Island and most recently War Horse, which were all at different venues. The seats the National allocate for Entry Pass probably cost about £40+, so the views were amazing, particularly at War Horse: the tickets were slightly more expensive (£15, because it’s so popular), but I was seated in the centre of Row C of the stalls, so I could see the entire stage and literally feel each gallop of Joey!
- Book online: once you’ve signed up, keep checking on the website for any last minute availability. The National also announces the dates for when the new season’s booking opens, so make sure you’re ready at your laptop on those days!
- Take advantage of the other discounts: I had an interview at The National Theatre a while back, and completely forgot to use my discount in the cafe for a cheeky hot chocolate before it started! Write down your Entry Pass details before you go, so you can take advantage of the discounts in the shop and at the cafe.
Royal Shakespeare Company: £5 tickets (RSC Key)
I must admit, I haven’t used this discount yet, but have signed up for it. But it has come highly recommended from my other theatre friends!
This scheme is very similar to the National’s Entry Pass. Apologies to 26 year olds, but it is only valid for those aged 16-25, and gives you a selection of discounts:
- £5 tickets to shows in Stratford-upon-Avon and London.
- Yes, that means to Matilda The Musical!
- Even cheaper tours than the National: £4 for front of house, and £4.50 for behind the scenes.
But that’s not all…
The RSC have really tapped into the student mindset, offering you discounts for other attractions while you’re in Stratford. These include 2 for 1 entry to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, 2 for 1 entry to Warwick Castle, 25% off accommodation at Youth Hostel, and so much more!
They also reward frequent customers: if you see 5 shows, you get the 6th show for free! Just get your RSC key card stamped each time you go. In addition, they have very active and dedicated team on Twitter and other social media, keeping you updated on current productions and last minute releases of extra tickets!
- USE ALL THE DISCOUNTS: I don’t think I’ve seen any other scheme which offers so many discounts on food, shopping and merchandise, not only with their company but locally! So use them!
- Check the policies: I know booking for Matilda is different, because you can’t book online. So always check the best way of booking, whether it be in person on the day or online.
So, those are my top 3 tips for doing the theatre for under a fiver. And I will be taking my own advice and trying to get tickets for Matilda The Musical before the year is out!
Have you used any of these schemes, or have any other ones to recommend?