Just because you're looking to save money doesn't mean you have to miss out on feeling like a million bucks spending a night at the theatre. There are plenty of ways to take in a show without making your wallet hurt for it. Here are a few tips for planning a special date night, some much-needed time away from home, and/or a night on the town that will keep you feeling culturally literate (without breaking the bank).

1. Look for discounts

This might seem like the most basic of basic advice, but there are discount programs out there hiding in plain sight. We all know that Groupon and LivingSocial should be the first place you check for anything deal-related, but did you know about Amazon Local or Gold Star? Both of these outlets sell discount (and sometimes almost free!) tickets to shows in your area on a daily basis. They are also great ways to find out about what's playing near you in case a show hasn’t popped up on your radar yet. Keep a finger on the pulse of culture, and save money while doing it; it's a win-win!

2. Find a student

Oftentimes, a valid student ID is your ticket to a cheap ticket. Theatres give (sometimes deep) student discounts to those holding a student ID, and students can generally purchase two tickets per ID at a discounted rate. Everyone's got at least one friend in grad school who could use a night off; make it a night off at the theatre!

3. Seek out small theatre shows

Not all theatre is Broadway-related (and Broadway tours can run up quite a ticket bill). Chances are that you have small theatre companies all around you that produce some incredible things on the cheap. Look for fringe theatre companies (whose ticket prices hover around the $20 mark), and feel good about supporting the arts and local business at the same time.

Related: Event-Ticket Fees You Should Never Pay

4. Pay what you can

Some theatre companies have instituted a pay-what-you-can night where tickets are purchased for a suggested donation amount (generally much cheaper than full price), or whatever contribution the purchaser can give. While this is a great way to see theatre on a budget, please remember that small companies only survive because of the generosity of their patrons. Please be honest about what you can pay (and if you can afford the suggested donation amount).

5. Volunteer

Many theatres have programs where you can volunteer one night of ushering for an opportunity to see the show. Ushering will generally involve taking tickets, folding and distributing playbills, seating guests, and doing a sweep of the theatre after the show to pick up stray litter. Not a bad exchange for an evening of cultural enrichment!

6. Become a critic

If you know something about theatre and you're passionate about the arts, you might be able to turn this passion into free theatre tickets. Reviewing isn't just about newspapers anymore; theatre review blogs are becoming more and more popular as a legitimate source for educated theatre opinions. If you think you've got what it takes to be a reviewer, start a blog! Create a domain, generate some preliminary content, then target small theatres in your area for your first reviews. Send a polite email inquiry to the theatre's press agent (generally listed on the company website), and see what happens.  Reviewers are generally presented with two tickets to press night, though a company may be able to accommodate your visit on another night of the run depending upon company procedures.

Theatre is an art form dependent upon the ability to share itself with others. You shouldn't feel like you need to miss out on this community because of your budget! If you can get even a little creative with your spending, the theatre will most certainly be your oyster.

This is a guest post by Danielle R. from Boston, MA.

 

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