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Theatre on a student budget

Theatre often gets a reputation for being something of a middle-class amusement. Picture a busy auditorium and you’ll probably see flocks of white, middle-aged men and women in fancy clothing, clutching their glasses of wine and miniscule £8 tubs of vanilla ice cream. It’s certainly not the stereotypical haunt of your average student. With premier seats at the Royal Opera House regularly selling in the region of £165, it’s not hard to see why we have such an impression.

Having said that, there are plenty of ways to access theatre – particularly in the fantastic bubble of culture that is Brighton – while avoiding the ludicrous price tags. Check out the article below for some top tips.

One great way of getting to see theatre for no cost at all is through volunteering. As a registered charity, the Brighton Open Air Theatre offer free tickets for their shows for every volunteering shift you do with them, which could involve stewarding, gardening, baking and plenty more. They have unfortunately closed their doors for the winter now but there are other charitable venues that offer similar opportunities, such as O N C A, an art gallery who regularly take on volunteer invigilators for their exhibitions, gigs, talks and performances. You may have to spend some of the time on the door or selling drinks, but you are usually able to check out what is going on while you are there.

Plenty of Brighton venues offer concessions tickets for students, including The Old Market and the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. These venues tend to be more reasonable than Brighton’s more famous institutions – like the Theatre Royal and the Dome – making most of their student tickets roughly in the region of £10.

Of course there are lots of companies offering discounted tickets online, particularly to more high-profile shows like those in the West End. One I am particularly keen on is TodayTix which can also be downloaded as an app. It’s free to sign up to and allows you to buy discounted last minute tickets on the day or up to 30 days before. Unfortunately, TodayTix are mostly based in the US and they currently only cover London shows in the UK, but if you get your tickets 30 days in advance you can bag yourself reasonably priced transport with National Express or The Trainline. TodayTix also tend to focus on major West End shows so you’re still looking paying in the region of £20 – £30, but it is a good way to treat yourself (or a friend) to something especially nice.

A number of Brighton theatres offer annual memberships, which dependent on how often you go to that particular venue might end up cheaper in the long run. Probably the best on the market is The Marlborough’s “Marly Mate” student membership which only costs £15/year and offers reduced rates on all shows, as well as food and drink in the pub downstairs. If you make The Marlborough a regular stop on your night out, you’re bound to make your money back in no time.

If you’ve got an eye for writing then look no further. As a respected local publication, The Badger regularly receives press tickets for shows at all the aforementioned venues and more, covering everything from more traditional theatre and dance, to stand-up comedy, drag and slam poetry. All you have to do in return is write up a preview and review for the production you are seeing, plus you get to see your name in print! If you’re interested in writing for The Badger email me at thebadger.theatre@gmail.com or join the Facebook group The Badger Theatre Writers 2017/2018.

Aside from that shameless self-promotion, I hope this guide can help to change the minds of a few Sussex students when it comes to theatre. In the first instance, to shoot down preconceptions that theatre is for a particularly social class or generation, but also to give people the confidence and the know-how to explore the fantastic world of theatre we have on our doorstep.

Featured Image: The Marlborough

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