This article is based, in part, on research done for DCTS’ presentation at the Smithsonian Museum on Aug 20, 2015.
You can see a play in this town for nothing or next to nothing. You can also pay over a hundred bucks. Mostly it depends on what you want to see, where you want to see it, and how savvy you are at negotiating the opportunities for discounted theatre tickets.
In addition to the discounts on DC Theatre Scene – which obviously should be the first place you look – websites like GoldStar, TicketPlace, Groupon, and Living Social all highlight date-specific offers. Many theatres also offer Pay What You Can performances, where you get to set your own price. Forum Theatre has adopted the model of Pay What You Want for all of its performances – astoundingly, their revenue actually increased. It’s theatre on the honor system, which is kind of lovely.
If you’re a young professional – which sometimes means under 30, sometimes under 25 – or a member of the military or retired, theatres will often have discounts specific to you. Sometimes these are on designated nights – the young professionals often get a happy hour with their tickets, which seems unfair to the retired folks – and sometimes it’s a blanket offer.
If you know you’ll have ten or more people attending a show, call the theatre and ask to speak with someone in group sales. Typically you can get a 10% discount just for being a large group.
And, of course, if you know you want to see several shows in a theatre’s season, consider getting a subscription. The price per ticket will inevitably be lower, and many theatres are offering flexible season passes now so you can pick and choose what you want to see.
If you are culturally curious and keep a flexible schedule, the seat filling sites may be of interest. These are last minute free tickets to events, some of which will be tickets to professional theatres. One such seat filler site is SeatStir.
Free theatre is available throughout the year. Two of the biggest annual free events are happening in the next two weeks:
And over the Labor Day weekend, the Kennedy Center is filled with free readings and performances during Page-To-Stage. This year’s event is September 5 – 7.
Finally, a way to save big on your theatre tickets is to buy them during theatreWeek, brought to you by theatreWashington. Specifics will be announced September 7, but we hear that nearly 50 theatres will have offers ranging from free tickets to seats as deeply discounted as 75%. You can buy tickets during theatreWeek for show dates throughout the upcoming season. So it’s a great chance to grab some of those expensive or hard-to-get tickets and discover some new companies. You might want to bookmark the link: theatreWeek.
What shows belong on your theatre going calendar? DC Theatre Scene’s Theatre Guide
More from our series: – See more and Save, 2015