For those of us who are artists-in-training, money can be tight. We are hustling to pay rent, tuition, grocery bills, etc… It can feel overwhelming.
Especially in a city like NYC.
We inevitably look for ways to cut spending: cooking at home, walking vs. Ubering, no longer buying name brand shampoo… do you really need a Netflix and a Hulu subscription?
When money is tight, paying to see live theatre can get shoved to the bottom of our budgeting lists.
Not only does seeing theatre help us stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the artistic realm, it’s one of the most beneficial ways to feed our creative souls and expand our understanding of the craft.
Plus… this is New York City, baby! Luckily, there are A MULTITUDE OF WAYS to see theatre in this city without spending a fortune. Here are JUST 10:
If you are a currently a New York City resident above the age of 10, you can sign up for IDNYC. This is a government-issued ID card which gets you discounts on all sorts of experiential-based activities in the city — including live theatre! To sign up, you must be able to present proof of identity and residency in NYC, and submit an application at an IDNYC Enrollment Center.
This is a free option for all New Yorkers who apply for a card before December 31, 2019. Once you are approved, your card is valid for 5 years.
Being an NYCID card holder qualifies you for discounts at theaters like Roundabout Theatre Company, Second Stage Theatre, Theatre for a New Audience, and more… (Here’s a list of all NYC Theaters currently offering discounts through IDNYC!)
According to their website, TDF is a “not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing the power of the performing arts to everyone”. With the TDF membership, you get special access to discounted tickets to hundreds of Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway shows – all in the $11-$49 range. Plus, members can buy their theater tickets in advance online!
You are eligible for TDF membership if you are a full-time student, full-time teacher, recent graduate, full-time union member, retiree… You can see if you qualify for the Theatre Development Fund here.
Having a student ID in NYC helps you get discounts to all kinds of performances. Current TK Students can use their student IDs to score discounts on cheap theater tickets in the city. The average price for an Off Broadway show with a student ID is $20. TWENTY BUCKS. Girl, that ain’t bad…
And on top of that, you can get discounted tickets to other shows (including Broadway) via NYC’s student rush.
Bring a passport sized photo to the front desk! We’ll make you one!
Club Free Time is a service which offers free events to New Yorkers.
Not only do they provide info on free concerts, tours, gallery openings and movies in NYC, they have a whole page dedicated to free theatre performances. (Plus, once you register and login on their website you will have even more productions to choose from, as the complimentary ticketing offers cannot be made public.)
It’s completely free (and easy) to join. Just enter your email address!
Okay. So! Naked Angels is pretty cool. Not only do they offer opportunities for up and coming artists to perform their own devised work, they make it their mission to provide opportunities to see FREE THEATRE in NYC.
A couple cool programs Naked Angels offers:
Each week September through May (on Tuesdays… at 9pm…) this company offers a cold reading for works-in-progress. There’s an open submission policy for new works + an open casting session at the top of each week.
According to their website, Naked Angels “has been and will always be free and open to all artists and audience members.”
Every month Naked Angels puts up a free reading of new full-length plays (developed from Tuesdays@9^^^).
Over the years they’ve had readings of plays by big names like Theresa Rebeck, Warren Leight, David Marshall Grant, among others.
Space is limited (cuz wowowow what a cool, great, free deal??) but you can reserve tickets here.
The Skint is an amazing resource for finding free events in New York on a daily basis. It’s not all theatre, but if you’re willing to troll the website you can find some pretty neat stuff.
Peruse your options via the link above. Special updates offered to subscribers + events are updated daily.
Founded in 1984, Primary Stages is an Off-Broadway not-for-profit theatre company “dedicated to inspiring, supporting, and sharing the art of playwriting.” Their mission is nurture and support writers as they create new work.
They offer discounts on select Off-Broadway productions — if interested, visit the box office at 4pm to enter a lottery for a “Pay What You Can” ticket.
Also: If you’re under 35 you can use the online code “PS35” to purchase up to two tickets to any performance for only 20 bucks! Plus — if you’ve got a student ID there are rush tix available!
The Atlantic Theatre Company offers an opportunity for ticket buyers to purchase $25 tickets to any preview performance in their Linda Gross Theatre and Atlantic Stage 2.
You can snag tickets 2 weeks prior to the first preview performance. They’re subject to availability – so if you’re interested, be sure to hop on it quickly! (Their box office opens at noon…)
Playwrights Horizons offers all kinds of deals for discounted tickets.
HOTTIX: If you’re under 30 and have cash (CASH ONLY, YA’LL!) — Based on availability, Playwrights HOTTIX program allows you to can purchase $25 tickets starting one hour before curtain…
First Row Sundays: Another cheap way for those of you under the age of 30 to see shows at Playwrights ($25) is through their First Row Sundays offer. Audience members are able to book their tickets in advance – and you guessed it: ya get a front row seat ticket.
LIVEforFIVE: And on top of that, anyone of any age can submit their names for the LIVEforFIVE lottery – winners get a $5 ticket to the first preview of a new production.
Click the link above to snag some more info and to submit!
FINALLY…. Okay, so it’s not “live” theatre…. but, for you nerds out there:
LISTEN UP! Sometimes work / life / class / parents / pets / what-have-you can get in the way of scheduling in advance.
So. If you have a hankering for top notch theater – get your NYC Library Card.
Here’s the deal: yes, go and check out as many books as your heart desires (we get it, ya know how to read!!!).
BUT! Did you know that being a theatre professional or researcher with work or study related reasons for viewing theater means you’re eligible for TOFT?
What is TOFT, you ask? TOFT stands for the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive.
Click the link above to check to see if you meet the eligibility requirements (if you’re a theatre professional, student or researcher – you’re good).
There ya have it! 10 viable options to see cheap theatre in NYC. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, really.The best actors return to the theatre to keep their instrument sharp. Denzel Washington and Sam Rockwell don’t seek out Broadway roles between big budget films because they need the money! They know that performing live theatre is vital in maintaining a well rounded acting instrument.
I’ll say it again: if you want to be a truly excellent actor, you must see live theater. Now go get inspired!