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London theater on a budget
A scene from "Everyman" at the National Theatre.(Courtesy of Richard Hubert Smith)

London theater on a budget

Interning in, visiting, or returning home to London? The theatrical home of Shakespeare, London is a place that is known for theater as much as it is for being expensive. Still, there are many ways to get discount tickets to some of the most exciting theater happenings in London. Here, we offer a look at some of your options, this summer and beyond (in no particular order):

Shakespeare’s Globe, £5 stalls tickets

Come see theater as the “groundlings” did back in Shakespeare’s times — in the stalls, standing, right next to the stage (you can literally touch it). Tickets only cost £5.

The current Globe was opened in 1997. It is modeled after the original (built in 1599 and burned in 1613) Globe Theatre. And located only 750 feet from where that theater stood, it’s quite an experience to see a show there. You can find tickets here for their plays as well as talks and other special events (every month they have a “midnight matinee” performance of one of their shows).

Playing now: “Richard II,” “As You Like It,” “Measure for Measure,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” and “The Heresy of Love” by Helen Edmundson.

 

The National Theatre, £5 standing, £15 reduced standby and more

Established in 1963, The Royal National Theatre (usually just shortened to the National Theatre) performs a mix of classic and contemporary pieces. They have many different options for discounts, including day of, standing, standby, Friday rush, and more. The cheapest option is £5 standing seats, but students can get better seats for £15 with reduced standby as well. Check out our review of “Everyman,” see what works best for the show you’re interested in and come to one of London’s most renowned theaters!

Plus, if you’re not in London, you can still catch some of their shows through NTLive — since 2009, this program has broadcast to over 1,100 venues in the world. They position cameras throughout the entire auditorium to give a film-like theater experience of their best productions.

Playing now: “Everyman” by Carol Ann Duffy, “The Motherf**ker with the Hat” by Stephen Adly Guirgis, “The Red Lion” by Patrick Marber, “The Beaux’ Stratagem” by George Farquhar, “Three Days in the Country” by Patrick Marber and more.

 

Royal Court Theatre, 10p standing, £10 Mondays, £12 under-26

For any aspiring playwrights, don’t miss a show at “the leading force in world theatre for energetically cultivating writers – undiscovered, new, and established.” While the Royal Court Theatre’s season doesn’t start back up until September, a few weeks before Stanford does, it offers many good discounts and production options for then (and the rest of the year). Established in 1870, then demolished in 1887 and rebuilt in 1888, this non-commercial theatre saw many premieres of George Bernard Shaw’s plays from 1904 to 1907. For the least expensive option in this article, come an hour before the show for 10 pence standing tickets. On Mondays at 9 a.m., £10 tickets are released online for that day’s shows. In the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, there are £12 for those under 26 years old, available by calling the box office at 020 7565 5000.

Playing soon: “Lela & Co.” by Cordelia Lynn, part of the New Playwright’s Programme; “Hangmen” by acclaimed playwright Martin McDonagh.

 

Long-running West End Shows, £5-15 “Day Of” tickets

This is where longer-running, popular, West End shows come into play. They’ve usually started somewhere else, transferred to a West End venue, and have been selling tickets for ages. Your current options include “Matilda” (£5), “Hamlet” (£10), “War Horse” (£15) and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” (£15). Read our review of “War Horse” here and decide which play or musical suits your interests best. Show up at the box office when it opens at 10 a.m. (or earlier!) and try your luck with these “Day Of” tickets. For other “Day Of” options, check out this comprehensive look by TheatreMonkey.

If you don’t want to go with the “Day Of” option, check out the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for half-price seats for a variety of shows. Check TheatreMonkey to see if you should buy or avoid certain seats, based on their views.

Currently, £1 is about equal to $1.56.

This is part of The Stanford Daily’s summer feature on London theatre. To see all of our coverage, click here.

About Noemi Berkowitz

Noemi Berkowitz is the Chief Theater Critic and a desk editor at The Stanford Daily. She is a junior from Lincoln, Nebraska, double majoring in theater and psychology. You may see her reciting Shakespeare, wearing tie-dye and hiking. Contact her at noemi11 'at' stanford.edu.