I think the best student ticketing program has to be the National Theatre’s Entry Pass scheme. Membership is free, and once you’ve signed up there’s the chance to see all of the National Theatre’s shows for just £5 - even those in the West End like War Horse or The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. I managed to go and see Great Britain at the Theatre Royal Haymarket through this scheme and my seat ended up in the centre of the grand circle - a ticket that should have been £56 at full price! You’ve got to be quick as the tickets sell out super quickly (hardly surprising considering what a good deal it is), but sometimes if you check back in the week of a performance you can get lucky and find a few student tickets still available. The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden also has a brilliant student scheme which offers £5 tickets. They occasionally also give student performances in which these tickets are reduced to just £1! You can also keep an eye on your favourite agents' discount tickets page for day-to-day deals and discounts, and even the occasional deep discount for really cheap theatre tickets.
Another way to get a good deal is to buy last minute tickets. This can be day seats available in person from the box office, or online. You can check London Theatre Direct's Last Minute Tickets section for last minute deals, for instance. It isn’t always certain to get you a cheaper ticket price, but from my personal experience it is likely that you will get moved to a more expensive area of the theatre than you paid for. This happened when I booked tickets to see Matilda - I think I paid £22 each for them and ended up in the centre of the stalls. Day seats can also be a good deal - I got into the sold-out show The Vote at the Donmar Warehouse for just £7.50. The only major downside to this is that you’re not certain of getting in, but if you are lucky enough to live or attend university in London it shouldn’t be too tricky to get down to the queue in the morning.
A third brilliant way of seeing some top quality theatre for a fraction of the price is to look away from the West End into London’s vibrant fringe scene. There are a whole host of smaller theatres away from the heart of theatreland producing high quality, thought provoking and exciting theatre. One of my recent discoveries is the Arcola Theatre in Dalston. Ticket prices there are quite reasonable (usually about £13-£18 depending on the show), but they also offer ‘pay what you can Tuesdays’ in which you can go and see their productions for whatever price you are able to pay, be that £1 or £100. Some theatres also offer super cheap restricted view or standing tickets on the day of the performance - the Royal Court has standing tickets available for just 10p!
There’s really no excuse to miss out on London’s brilliant theatre - there’s something for everyone on any budget. What are your best ticket tips for students?