1. Try your luck on lottery, rush, or day tickets
Many West End productions reserve a number of top price seats to be sold at a lower price on the day. Apps like TodayTix make it a breeze to enter these ticket “lotteries” or to purchase discounted “rush” tickets. If you’re feeling old-fashioned, you can still queue outside some theatres in the morning for day tickets, or in the hours before the curtain for returns. You can also sometimes find a deal at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square – London’s only legitimate discount ticket booth.
2. Take advantage of discount ticket schemes
These are always in high demand – sign up to the venue’s mailing list so you don’t miss out!
Free youth membership schemes: National Theatre Entry Pass (16-25), Roundhouse GET IN (16-25), Young Barbican (14-25), Donmar Warehouse YOUNG + FREE (all under 25), Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust (26-30), Orange Tree Theatre (under 30), Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre BREEZE (18-25), English National Opera Access All Arias (16-29/students), Park Theatre Young Patrons (16-26), Hampstead Theatre (under 30/ students), The Gate Theatre’s Young People’s Night (26 & under), Bunker Theatre (under 30), Jermyn Street Theatre (under 30), Mousetrap Theatre Projects (15-23).
Standing room: The Globe (£5 “groundling” tickets), Donmar Warehouse, Royal Court (10p tickets for select productions).
Other discounts: £10 previews at the Old Vic. £12 Mondays at the Royal Court. £10 Count Me In tickets at the Bush. Southwark Theatre Pay-As-You-Go Subscription (£12 per show for 5 shows), Pay What You Can Tuesdays at the Arcola. £3 unwaged preview tickets at the Bunker Theatre.
3. Become a member of a papering company
If you can beg, borrow, or charm your way into a membership to Audience Club, Play By Play UK, or Central Tickets, the reward is (nearly) free tickets to a wide variety of shows and events. In exchange for a small administration fee, a bit of discretion, and a promise to show up and spread the word, you could be a seat filler for a different show every night!
4. Become a volunteer reviewer
If you fancy yourself a theatre aficionado and you want to see a TON of shows for free, review websites like Everything Theatre, West End Wilma, and BroadwayWorld are always looking for volunteer reviewers. You’ll have multiple opportunities each week to see new shows from the fringe to the West End, in exchange for writing a short critique. You’ll often get a complimentary drink from the venue, and you may even be invited to press night parties!
5. Explore the world of the fringe
With West End and touring ticket prices climbing higher and higher, you can still experience top-notch performances for £20 or less on the London fringe. Subscribe to the London Pub Theatres Magazine (cost is pay-what-you-can) or their free monthly newsletter for some great tips – or check out the local theatre(s) in your neighborhood! Some fringe venues we recommend: The Drayton Arms Theatre, The Yard, The Finborough, Camden People’s Theatre, and The Vaults.