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Where to get Affordable Theatre Tickets in London

It’s not all about the West end! If you want a great theatrical experience in London that isn’t the pre-packaged musicals that come straight from Broadway (hardly a change of scenery for American tourists), then you might want to consider the other exciting London venues.

I’ll start with my very favorite, the first theatre I visited as a student in London:
The BAC, also known as the Battersea Arts Centre. It’s on Lavendar Hill, and you can get there by train stopping at Clapham Junction station, or by tube stopping either at Clapham Common or Stockwell. The tickets are between 5 and 10 pounds (10 to 20 dollars). Many physical theatre companies have started out there and come again for every new show. The strong point of the BAC is definitely its poetical slant on physical theatre, bordering between mime, dance, and straight acting. The atmosphere is also very friendly, and there are some great festivals throughout the year.

If you prefer more straightforward plays and enjoy the ‘theatreland’ area of London (Covent garden, Soho and that area), then you could stop at the Donmar warehouse, situated right off of the Covent Garden tube station, on Earlham street. This is a small, unusual theatre that used to be a banana warehouse(it could also be urban legend, but I quite like the idea).
The plays shown here encompass a very broad range of styles, from Greek tragedy—I saw a great version of ‘Hecuba’ there in 2004—to contemporary political theatre—the play ‘Frost/Nixon’ was a great critical success—to musicals! The tickets range between 15 and 30 pounds. Since it’s quite a small theatre, I don’t think that there are seats that are absolutely terrible to have, but then it depends on how comfortable you want to be.

Of course, it would be a disgrace not to mention the famous Royal Court, on Sloane square, the temple of British new writing. Tickets range from 10 to 25 pounds. It’s 10 pounds every Mondays, and they offer generous student concessions (as a rule, non west-end theatres are really good about student concessions). Virtually all quality new writing has been tested out at the Royal Court, either downstairs in the big theatre, or upstairs in the smaller one.

For the big National theatre complex, I’ll be brief: 3 theatres, the huge Olivier, the medium Lyttleton and the small Cottesloe. The National offers a wide variety of shows, and they most often are high quality, always worth the visit. If you’re not too sure what you want to see, but can’t afford to be disappointed, the National Theatre is a safe bet. The tickets range between 40 and 10 pounds, the previews are always cheaper. If a show is sold out, and you’re willing to stand in a queue, there are good chances you’ll get 10 to 15 pounds tickets. The theatre is a huge and ugly building on the South Bank, Waterloo station side. The walk along the river Thames is very enjoyable as an after-show activity!

If you’re into dance, check Saddler’s Wells theatre (the tube stop is ‘Angel’ on the Northern line), where they put on ballet, modern, hip hop, and have a yearly flamenco festival that is amazing. You can get tickets at the door (when the shows aren’t sold out) for 15 pounds, and some of their special events are cheaper.

The White Bear theatre in the pub of the same name in Kennington is a great fringe venue which stages productions by new and upcoming companies. 138 Kennington Road, Kennington tube, tickets at about 10 pounds.

Further out of London, but still not too far, in the borough of Richmond, is the Orange Tree theatre, which also covers widely across the theatre spectrum, and has its own troupe of actors. The theatre is ‘in the round’, which gives a particular dynamic to the productions.

Other theatres which are highly recommended by everyone who goes, and which I have (shame on me!) not sampled yet:

The Tricycle Theatre, which focuses on new writing and political theatre- tickets between 850 to 18. The Monday night shows and matinees are cheaper.

The Barbican complex, which houses a few theatres and where you can see plays and dance shows.

As a general rule:

• It is possible to get cheaper tickets for matinees and during the week nights
• Always ask about concessions.
• Take advantage of pre or post show discussions. They are often free with the ticket and can be very interesting
• If you are willing to stand in queues, you might get cheap tickets for sold out shows

And finally, if this article hasn’t convinced you that it’s not all about the west end, then I’ll give a tip to students: Check out the west end theatre’s concessions tickets before you go to the Leicester square booth, because the tickets might be cheaper if you get them at the theatre on the day of the show.

Check out the websites of the theatres mentionned, since you can often book online, or call to buy tickets.

After all that said, happy theatre!

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