Great Theater on a Student Budget

Dec 15, 2016 1:20:10 PM

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury UK

One of the many wonderful things about studying drama in England is the wide array of main stream to experimental theater available every day. Having chosen to study in Canterbury which is a quick sixty-minute train ride to London I have been able to zip up to the city for theater trips including many one-day marathon theater-adventures shared with new friends I’ve made here at university.

Like most students, I had to find ways of fulfilling my passion for theater and still stay on budget. I’m happy to say it’s easier than I initially thought.

What’s On

The first place I began, even before leaving the United States, was with research online to find out what was happening around London and in local theaters between Canterbury and the London, as well as on my own campus. My list grew quickly to include productions at theaters including Donmar Warehouse, Almeida, Arcola, Old Vic, Young Vic and the National. My favorite websites for general theater information have become:


Once I put together a list of my personal “must see” productions with, at the top of the list, “The Tempest” at Donmar, I went in search of affordable tickets and found these great websites.

I also found that many theater companies have special pricing (some FREE) for students under 25. For instance, the Donmar which offers Young+Free discounts.

University/Local Theater

And like many universities and colleges I also found that theater on-campus was a great source for professional entertainment well within most any budget. Here at the University of Kent we have the Gulbenkian Theatre, where an impressive amount of touring companies come in throughout the year. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing several productions, including an interpretive dance piece by James Wilton Dance Company based on Herman Melville’s novel “Moby Dick”. It’s well worth seeing when it comes to a city near your campus.

I was so delighted to see so much great local theater was available in the county of Kent, and all within an easy bus ride from campus. To find productions locally, The List is a great source to use.

Asking the experts

I’ve also made use of faculty and guest lecturers for recommendations of shows and theater companies. I’ve been directed to some unique spaces and happily entertained by delightfully unexpected theater gems, including a pop-up theater in London by production company, Found 111 . My favorite production thus far came from asking a visiting lecturer who is a West End producer, he recommended a visit to the Southwark Playhouse in London. I watched a new play, “Orca” by Matt Grinter; it was captivating, thought-provoking, entertaining and a perfect example of how an intimate theater can be transformed simply and beautifully into a tiny Irish seaside village.

The Panto!

Pantos at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury UK

As it is the holiday season we are treated to a theatre event quintessentially British, the Panto. I have been hearing for months from friends that the Panto is a must-see. Since there is one being produced in just about every theaterin the country you’ll be sure to find one near you.

I have recently attended the “Dick Whittington” at the Marlowe Theatre here in Canterbury. The show was pure joy and merriment on stage, and reflected what pantos are known for. Pantos a farcical take on traditional fairy tales with humorous references to current events thrown in for good measure, a star-studded cast (in the larger venues) and all wrapped up in fabulously big, bright, bold costumes, sets and performances.

Theater has long been an integral part of my life and coming to England my expectations for the British experience was very high. With each performance I watch, I grow in my knowledge of acting, directing, playwriting and technical design. For a drama student, England is a dream location with so much great theater to experience every day and so many affordable ways to see it!

If you would like to find out more about studying in the UK, please contact one of the Across The Pond Advisors.

Studying in the UK: The essential facts for Canadian students