West End’s Tall Order Tickets
So I really wanted to call this article ‘Anna on getting a second mortgage and several night shifts in order to pay for West End theatre tickets’, but it wouldn’t fit. Still, that’s what trying to go to the theatre feels like for the young. It’s like you can feel that percentage of your student loan/wage being ripped out of your soul (or liver).
We all know that Theatreland is an expensive place to have set your heart, but we seem to be always hearing about the newest, most expensive shows in town. For example, the musical adaptation of popular Christmas film Elf, which sees Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel unite to create a laughter filled session of jollity and Christmas cheer. This feel-good fest might not be so welcome though, when a family of four could be looking at forking out £1000 just to see it.
Yes, you read me correctly. £1000 for the privilege of sitting in a darkened room for 2 hours.
West End theatres have been championing unobtainable elitist prices for a little while now, with the average ticket probably costing around £70. But here’s what I really want to know. Where is that money going?
If we imagine that a ticket for Elf could cost you £250, then buying that ticket alone could comfortably pay the wages of three or four ensemble actors for that night. So with 2069 seats available, where is the five hundred grand that is left after cast and crew wages are paid for the night?
Obviously if you are a successful performer with job offers around every corner and a nice little pay packet, then you probably aren’t going to care where the money is going. But if you are a young or graduate actor trying to build up connections and a CV, we all know that work can be scarce. The life of an actor is the life of someone that never knows when their next job is coming, and how long they are going to have to live on the amount that they just earned (which in most cases, is very similar to my wage as a Sales Assistant in my last job). £500,000 seems a lot of money to be missing out on!
Acting is often perceived to be a high paying job, and the reason for this is that the wage has to take into consideration the fact that the job is not a constant one. But of the money that a West End production makes, an actor sees a very small percentage. This means that, pretty soon, not only are the rich going to be the only ones to be able to afford to see a show – but also the only ones to be able to afford to be in one. It’s a pretty devastating prospect to think that maybe one day I will have to turn down an acting job because my minimum wage salary as a waitress pays more.
Maybe this should have been called “Anna on getting a second mortgage and several night shifts in order to afford to be an actor.”
I think that theatre should be for everyone. Not just the super rich. So, here are some theatres and shows that you can go to without paying the earth.
The National Theatre (London)
For young people, you can get an entry pass card, which is free and entitles you to £5 tickets to any production. For everyone else, the National Theatre offers a Travalex system on the day of any performance which offers a limited number of tickets for £12-15. So just call them up in the morning and see what they have left.
The Royal Shakespeare Company often offer discounted tickets and also have a loyalty card scheme whereby if you see five productions, you can have your sixth free.
The Book of Mormon (West End)
The musical often holds a lottery whereby before a performance you can put your name down on a slip of paper before a performance, and the 10 or so winners receive discounted front row tickets. A surprising number of West End theatres do this, so keep your ear to the ground to find out details.
Don’t live near London? Tweet us to let us know your favourite ways to get to the theatre without breaking the bank.