A Critic's Guide to Cheap Theatre Tickets
We all know that theatre tickets are too expensive, so how do you see shows for less? Here's a quick guide
Theatre tickets are expensive. They're so expensive that earlier this year, The House of Lords urged the UK government to investigate rising West End Theatre prices after research by The Stage found prices had risen by 60% since 2012.
However, while a building of obscenely rich people have a think about why theatre tickets in London are too expensive and if they could maybe do something about it at some point, there are ways that you can find theatre tickets in Scotland for less than you might expect.
If you want super cheap tickets, then see if you can get into a show during a preview. What’s a preview? It’s the first few days of a show’s run, typically before the press night, and tickets to these dates are always more affordable. Act swiftly when shows are announced though, because these tickets are snapped up pretty quickly.
Yes, we all know that you can get cheaper tickets if you're a student, senior citizen, or receive Jobseekers Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Employment & Support Allowance. Discounts also apply to Young Scot Card holders, members of Equity, BECTU, Stage Directors UK, the Scottish Society of Playwrights and the Musician's Union.
You can also get much more affordable tickets if you’re unemployed, and remember, under 26 schemes will cover you right up until your 27th birthday.
However, age shouldn’t be a barrier, and the Traverse recently expanded their under 26 scheme to include people aged 30 and under, as well as offering £5 tickets year-round to the unemployed i.e. anyone in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit (proof is required).
Book group tickets
Going to the theatre with a bunch of eight or more friends? Then instead of booking your tickets separately, contact the box office and ask about a group rate, because when you buy lots of tickets at once, you can often get a discount, or a free ticket thrown in.
Buying in bulk has its advantages, and the amount you save will depend on the show and the venue, but you could save up to £6 a ticket. Go on an' ask, shy bairns get nowt.
A lot of bigger theatres offer so-called ‘Friends Schemes’, where you sign up to be a ‘friend’ of the venue, and in return you can get discounts on tickets, alongside a whole host of other incentives, such as 2 for 1 tickets and further discounts on group bookings, such as ATG's Theatre Card membership.
Friends schemes usually charge an annual fee, and the amount you have to spend depends on the venue.
New pricing structures
Perhaps the most famous affordable ticket is the Citz 50p tickets scheme, where every couple of months they sell theatre tickets for 50p. They’re available for everyone, all you have to do is queue outside the Citizens Theatre on the day they go on sale.
Creative Electric, the Leith-based theatre company operate a ‘Pay What You Can’ scheme, where, like Free Fringe shows, the audience make donations as they leave. And UNFIX – an evolving festival of ecological performance, dance, music, film and discussion at CCA – gave autonomy to the audience by letting them decide which price bracket they fit into, borrowing a structure developed by the Scottish Queer International Film Festival.
Venues such as the King's Theatre Glasgow and Edinburgh Playhouse offer base pricing for tickets, where a limited number of tickets for certain performances are much cheaper than normal.
If you live near a theatre, then you might be eligible for discounts too. Platform offer a free and lifetime Local Links scheme, which covers a large range of Glasgow east end postcodes local to Platform, where you can get tickets for £4. Meanwhile people living in the Gorbals (G5) postcode can sign up for a free Gorbals Card to get Citz tickets for £2, and £5 panto tickets.
Remember, the box office is your friend. Ask about schemes, discounts, special offers.