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Posted at 4:18 PM ET, 05/15/2009

Free and Cheap Theater

By Stephanie Merry

Every year we try to help out the students who flock to D.C. to take low-paying (or no-paying) internships with ways to have fun on the cheap. This year though, considering the economy, just about everyone needs a little help. So we've compiled a list of ways to take in a little theater on the cheap.

The Kennedy Center

For students: The Kennedy Center offers a limited number of half-price tickets to students (from grade school through grad school), which can be reserved in advance. Make sure to bring along your student ID the day of the performance.
For the 17-25 set: Sign up for the Attend program and receive alerts about discounted tickets as low as $10.
For all ages: Millennium Stage offers free performances every night of the year at 6 p.m.
What to see: Synetic Theatre performs its dance-infused version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

(More bargains after the jump.)

Arena Stage
For students: Bring a valid ID to Arena and, depending on availability, receive a 35 percent discount.
For the under 30 set: Every week the theater sets aside a number of $10 tickets for patrons under 30. The tickets go on sale on Mondays for the following six days of performances.
For all ages: As part of Arena's New Deal promotion, the theater is selling its balcony seats at Lincoln Theatre and final four rows at its Crystal City location for $25.
What to see: Valerie Harper stars as America's first celebrity bad-girl in "Looped."

Folger Theatre
For students: The theater puts on one "college night" performance per production, usually the second Friday of the run. Tickets are $10 for collegiate theater-goers with a valid ID. Students can also get a 20-25 percent discount off tickets to most Folger programs. Starting one hour before some shows, there's a student rush for high school and college students, offering half-price tickets.
For all ages: Most productions have preview nights with tickets as low as $25. The Folger also sells $15 standing room tickets for performances that are sold out, starting an hour before the show begins.
What to see: Tom Stoppard's well-received "Arcadia" continues through June 14.

Olney Theatre
For students: Olney sets aside a limited number of $10 tickets the day of a performance for students with IDs.
For all ages: The National Players continue their yearly tradition of putting on free Shakespeare performances with a weekend of "Much Ado About Nothing" in August.
What to see: Tennessee Williams's most autobiographical play, "The Glass Menagerie."

Rorschach Theatre:
For students: Students get discounted prices of $12, or $13.50 for tickets purchased online.
For everyone: Rorschach always kicks off a new production with three pay-what-you-can previews. Even so, the standard ticket price of $20 is one of the best deals in town.
What to see: A re-telling of the story of Scheherazade in "1001."

Round House Theatre
For the under 30 set: On a play-by-play basis, Round House will offer discounted tickets for as low as $10.
For all ages: Each production kicks off with two pay-what-you-can performances.
What to see: "A Sleeping Country" follows an insomniac who travels to Venice in search of a cure for her sleeplessness. Tickets for theater-goers under 30 are $10.

Shakespeare Theatre Company at Harman Hall and Lansburgh Theatre
For the 35 and under set: Along with $10-$25 events that combine plays with happy hour, young theater fans can also take advantage of a limited allotment of $10 tickets that go on sale on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. for performances through the following Sunday.
For all ages: The Shakespeare Free for All that used to take place annually at Carter Barron Amphitheater is moving inside. The free performances start at the beginning of September.
What to see: Stacy Keach comes to D.C. to star in "King Lear."

Signature Theatre:
For all ages: Rush tickets for $30 go on sale one hour prior to every performance. Another way to see a Signature show on the cheap is checking out one of the theater's $20 cabaret performances in July.
What to see: The first show of Signature's 20th season is "Dirty Blonde," a play about Mae West and the fan who loved her.

Studio Theater
For students: Students can take advantage of a $5 discount on any performance and $19 rush tickets (when available), which go on sale the day of the performance.
For all ages: Rush tickets of $30 go on sale 30 minutes before curtain, when available.
What to see: The final installment of August Wilson's 10-play cycle, "Radio Golf."

Theater J
For the 35 and under set: There are a limited number of half-price tickets available for every show.
For all ages: A half hour before each performance, the theater sells a limited number of tickets at a discount. There are also pay-what-you-can previews for each production.
What to see: An update to Chekhov's play, "The Seagull on 16th Street" has pay-what-you-can performances on June 17 and 18.

Woolly Mammoth
For the 25 and under set: Depending on availability, theater-goers can catch a regular season production for $15. This deal doesn't apply to limited-run special performances.
For all ages: The first three shows of every run are pay-what-you-can, and there are balcony seats that go on sale two hours before curtain time that go for $15 on a first-come, first-served basis.
What to see: Barack Stars brings Chicago's Second City comedy troupe to Washington to lampoon the president.

Of course, there are plenty of other opportunities for free and cheap theater, from Fringe Festival to Artomatic to occasional pay-what-you-can previews. Keep your eye on the blog for news on other great deals.

-- Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | May 15, 2009; 4:18 PM ET
Categories:  Free and Cheap, Theater  
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Also, check out TICKETPLACE, DC's only half price ticket's been around for over 15 years!

407 7th Street, NW

Posted by: isar654321 | May 18, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

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