Theatregoing on a budget - The antidote to my blog break

Hi guys!
I can't believe how long it's been since my last post! I've just been so busy, and frankly too hard up to afford, well, anything recently. My housemates and I are moving house and so I've had to dole out so much money in the last few weeks.


Deposits, insurance and summer rent certainly aren't cheap.

For this reason, when I read a blog post entitled 'Do You Go To The Theatre?' on ThoroughlyModernMaisie's blog, it really resonated with me. As a theatre blogger, it's easy to feel left out and inadequate if you're not going to the theatre 3 or more times a week  and reviewing every single show. Especially when your twitter timeline seems to consist of new blog posts every time you check in.

Blog envy gets to us all. It's understandable.

But really, if you can't afford to go then you can't afford to go. Especially if, like me, you're not based in London and have to commute in on the train in order to see the shows which everyone is raving about.

That being said, London is not the be all and end all with regards to seeing fantastic theatre, and certainly by looking for ways to see more in my local area I've been able to fill that West End shaped gap when things have gotten a little tighter moneywise.
Consequently, I've decided to put together a list of hints and tips about how to see amazing theatre without having to sell a limb or forsake a weeks food shop. To regular theatregoers some of the points on this list may seem a bit obvious, but hopefully some of the information on here is helpful to someone. And so, without further ado, here it is...

1) Explore the power of the Student I.D.
I am very fortunate in that I currently live and study in a city which has not one but two brilliant local theatres, and both of them offer some form of student ticket deal. Theatres offering a percentage off the price of tickets for students is not uncommon, but my local theatre (The Marlowe in Canterbury) has a fantastic programme which enables young people aged 16-26 to access brilliant seats (often in the front stalls or first few rows of the upper circle) for prices starting at just £8!!! I've seen countless tours and fantastic one off performances at The Marlowe Theatre for the price of a night out or a cake and a coffee in Costa. This is an AMAZING example of a student ticket deal that actually makes theatre affordable for students, and as such I hope more theatres around the UK adopt a similar scheme. It may be worth investigating whether theatres near you offer a similar sort of deal because honestly it has opened so many doors for me and allowed me to see shows which I may have otherwise been hesitant to take a chance on.

2) Never underestimate a drama student.
If you go to uni or really live anywhere near a university, then you'll probably have at least been made aware of the student productions which are produced, directed and star drama students (or members of a drama society). Often these student productions will be very well acted, high quality shows, and are always fairly cheap to attend! Not to mention you may have the opportunity to witness new writing or experience a play which is staged more infrequently. I think by now every student theatre group has done Romeo and Juliet and Hedda Gabler to death and have had to dig a bit deeper! Fantastic for everyone involved!

3) Investigate unconventional venues
Pubs, clubs, forests, parks, even public toilets! Often local companies stage the most innovative, exciting productions simply out of necessity. It's worth checking out local notice boards/twitter pages etc. and exploring theatrical experiences that you perhaps weren't aware actually existed.

4) National. Theatre. LIVE.
Need I say more. See the show completely unobstructed.... from the comfort of your local cinema!

5) The cheapest options are not always the terrible ones
In fact, they're almost always not terrible.
Okay for regular theatregoers this is probably the most obvious point on the list, but I remember a time not that long ago when I bought massively overpriced seats, miles away from the stage, and was just willing to accept that when seeing a West End show, that was the way it was.
When I take a trip down to the West End, I ALWAYS sit in the cheapest seats possible. I'm a student, there's no way around it. But as strange as it may sound to some people, the cheap seats are very rarely terrible... I mean ... REALLY terrible. If you really want to see a show but you're not sure about taking a risk when ticket prices are so steep, sitting in the cheap seats is your best option. Again, this might sound obvious, however, I am always shocked by the amount of people who splash out of £70 seats when three seats along or one row behind you can get a ticket for a third of the price. You could always check out Seatplan for honest seat reviews in London venues if you want to be certain you're not going to be staring at a pillar for 2 and a half hours.
Aside from this, there's the option to get dayseats for a number of West End shows (very often these are in the front row and are normally around £20-25 so if queuing in the morning is doable for you then I'd fully recommend it.). Not to mention a load of student ticket schemes that operate in London theatres, such as the RSC Key, National Theatre Entry Pass and Menier Chocolate Factory Golden Tickets to name but a few. Yes, theatre in London is expensive, but there are nearly always ways to cut costs while maintaining an enjoyable theatregoing experience.

I'll be honest, I do find this post a bit sad. It may be a fact of life, and has been ever since I began going to the theatre, but unfortunately, there is no way to avoid the fact that theatregoing IS an expensive hobby. While I hope I've helped to prove that ways to see great theatre locally, and avoid unnecessary expenses, it is rather unfortunate that as far as the masses are concerned, the epicentre of all buzz-inducing theatre is still London.
However, I hope that this post has helped to prove that there are ways to see theatre without breaking the bank. There is only so much that we as audience members can do though, and I do feel that in order to attract younger audiences, theatres need to radically adjust their accessibility, and tailor themselves towards a younger audience. Otherwise I fear young people may be further deterred from attending the theatre full stop.

How horrendous!

But what do you think? Is theatre in London more well regarded by the masses? Do you find the theatre inaccessible because of price, or because of any other reason actually? Let me know here or on Twitter if you'd like.
*  *  *
Right, that was long but fun. If you're still reading them I really hope you've enjoyed this post. Yes, it was a bit different my usual stuff, but hopefully I'll be posting regularly again soon. I've got some really exciting shows coming up in August / September, and then I'll be back at uni at which time business will resume as usual! Finally!

Thanks for sticking with me this long though guys,

Charlotte xx

Star For A Day - Elphaba

Hotel Direct are currently running a fabulous competition which allows theatre bloggers to envision themselves as a character from a West End play or musical, and design their perfect day out in London. For me, a character who I not only adore but also think deserves a lovely relaxing daytrip is Wicked's Elphaba, the green witch who is often cruelly labelled 'Wicked Witch Of The West'. She lives a pretty humble life normally, and dedicates a lot of her time to the protection of animals, which, while an admirable feat, is surely a bit draining after a while. Therefore, If I were to live as Elphaba for a day I'd want to experience things I've NEVER felt tried before!


Protecting animals is something that Elphaba feels very strongly about, and so the first stop of the day would be ZSL London Zoo, who envision 'A world where animals are valued, and their conservation assured'. I'd call in on the Lions and Monkeys and watch the eagles and hawks defy gravity in the Bird Safari, however I'd probably avoid the aquarium, as getting wet is the last thing I'd want!

After visiting the animals, I'd pop over to Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium and indulge in some pre-theatre tea and savoury treats, whilst surrounded by cats (!!!), before whisking myself off to the Cambridge theatre to see Matilda the Musical. The story of a bookish young girl who discovers that she has magical powers and uses them to bring down a tyrant isn't dissimilar to Elphaba's own life story, and so I think she'd find Matilda's tale a truly inspirational one!
My last stop before bed would be at the Zenna Bar where I'd indulge in a truly magical cocktail. After enjoying a classic cocktail with a unique and unexpected twist, in the twinkling, candlelit and palatial cocktail bar (whose azure walls are reminiscent of Oz's own Emerald City!) I'd make my way back to my hotel to reflect on the day and read for a little while, before drifting off to sleep.

What about you? If you were a star for a day who would you be and where would you want to go? Why not write up your own itinerary and enter Hotel Direct's competition too! I'd love to read about where some of the West End's other biggest and brightest characters would spend their down time!
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