This is the second part of a two-part series on seeing theater on the cheap in D.C.
The second act of this feature explores additional avenues for affordable theater going. Last-minute tickets can offer the astute and spontaneous student steep discounts, and free performances are a great way to experience new types of theater. Ushering opportunities and numerous student performance groups create even more ways for students to see theater on a shoe-string.
If you’re up for the adventure of spontaneous theatergoing, buying tickets on the day of the show can offer steep discounts.
Seemingly the center of expensive theater, the Kennedy Center sells available tickets at half-off the regular box office price on the day of the show to full-time students, seniors and others with limited income. Tickets must be bought at the box office and go on sale at noon for matinees and 6 p.m. for evening shows.
You must provide proof that you are eligible for the specially priced tickets, such as a student ID.
Similarly, the Woolly Mammoth Theatre sells “Stampede Seats” starting at 12:30 p.m. for its 2 p.m. show and 6:30 p.m. for its 8 p.m. show. Selling for $15, the tickets are available to anyone and are located in the side balcony and prime orchestra regions of the theater.
E-mail lists are again your guide for seizing cheap theater opportunities in the District. Barry Halvorson, director of marketing at Woolly Mammoth, said signing up for the theater’s e-mail club will alert you to last-minute ticket offers, sometimes with prices even falling below $15.
Joining the “A-List”, the e-mail list for Arena Stage, keys you into last-minute offers available only to “A-Listers.” It also occasionally provides discounts for area restaurants and other local theaters.
If you are interested in the cause or offerings of a specific D.C. theater, sign up to usher. Local theaters need volunteer ushers in order to operate, so they are enthusiastic for your help.
While signing up to usher for a theater is more of a commitment than buying a discounted ticket, it allows you see a variety of shows for free, all for being friendly and helping patrons to their seats.
Almost all local nearby theaters have volunteer usher programs, but each has its own rules and regulations. Check out the Web site of the theater you have in mind for more information.
Even better than cheap tickets, many theaters also stage free showings or play readings.
Free performances allow you to experiment with different performance offerings before paying the full (discounted) ticket price.
The Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, for example, hosts free, live performances daily at 6 p.m.
Past offerings included a reading of plays by the award-winning playwright Edward Albee (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf”). Starting in February, the Millennium Stage will feature Japanese cultural performances as part of its “Japan! Culture/Hyperculture” festival, including a presentation on the art of paper toy making.
It almost goes without saying that student theater provides affordable and quality performances for the new and seasoned theatergoer alike.
On campus, the Department of Performing Arts hosts performances in the Katzen Arts Center and the Greenberg Theatre, a short walk from the Tenley campus on Wisconsin Avenue. Most DPA performances cost only $5 with an AU ID.
Starting Valentine’s Day, the DPA will stage “Machinal” in the Greenberg Theatre, telling the tale of an adulteress in the 1920s on trial for murdering her husband.
Additionally, the AU Players stage a diverse range of campus productions. Check out http://www.auplayers.com to learn about future productions.
Living in a city of universities opens up a plethora of other student performance opportunities. Tickets are affordable for all student productions, with or without that university’s discount.
This winter, Georgetown University is staging “Hidden Histories: A Festival of New and Unseen Works,” a series dedicated to developing new performances. For a thought-provoking theater experience, Gallaudet University stages signed performances with subtitles. Past performances included an electrifying rendition of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”