Shows on the cheap

Written for Anna Fiorentini Theatre & Film School

Being a theatre lover can be an expensive hobby for anyone, but especially for families and young people. Fortunately, many theatres and theatre companies try to make their shows more accessible by offering discounted tickets to young people and students, either at ticket checkout or through special membership schemes. We’ve done the research and made a list of some of the places where it pays to be young.

Probably the best know scheme for young people is the Entry Pass programme at the National Theatre, which is aimed at 16 to 25 year olds. Signing up to the programme is free, and allows member access to tickets for £7.50 and priority booking. The National also offers workshops and talks to Entry Pass members, for example on designing a set, holding a monologue or becoming a theatre professional.

A similar programme is Young Barbican, a ticket scheme for 14 to 25 year olds. The Barbican offers tickets starting at £5 for most of its events, including theatre shows, film screenings and music events, to members. Aside from that, they also have free creative programmes that Barbican Young members can join, like the Young Songwriters and the Young Reviewers.

The Roundhouse has a choice of membership schemes: their free GET IN programme for 16 to 25 year olds, and their £20 a year Emerging Artist Membership, which is aimed at people between 13 and 25. GET IN members can book £5 tickets for selected gigs, theatre shows and other events. Emerging Artists are automatically signed up to GET IN, and also have access to the Roundhouse’s studio spaces that they can hire for prices starting at £1 an hour. There are rehearsal rooms for bands and individual musicians, DJ booths and Mac workstations. All are fully equipped and come with technical assistance.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has the RSC Key for 16 to 25 year olds, which allows members to book £5 tickets for all RSC shows in Stratford-upon-Avon and London, including Matilda. The membership comes with a loyalty card, which means that after seeing five shows, you get one for free. The company also host special events for programme members, and offers the opportunity to write for the RSC Key blog.

Some theatres have more straightforward membership programmes that only offer discounted tickets. A couple of examples are:
Breeze at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, for ages 18 to 25; £10 tickets for preview performances.
Access All Arias with the English National Opera, for people between 16 and 29; tickets starting at £10 for ENO productions.
Mousetrap Theatre Projects, a charity that offers cheap tickets for West End shows to young people; £5 tickets for ages 15 to 18 and £10 tickets for ages 19 to 23.
Welcomes Performances at the Royal Opera House; families who have never visited before can apply for tickets starting from £5 for selected performances.

Quite a few theatres also offer discounts to young people without a special membership scheme. Examples are £10 tickets for under 26s at the Young Vic, £5 tickets for selected performances at the Almeida for ages 25 and under, tickets from £6 for under 26s at Theatre Royal Stratford East, and tickets between £8 and £12 for under 18s at the Unicorn Theatre. And finally, best of all, the Donmar Warehouse offers free tickets to under 26 year olds through their YOUNG + FREE programme.

Together, these theatres and companies offer some of the best shows in London, so don’t miss out!