The free tickets scheme for under-26s launches on Monday. My colleague and I are already plotting our assault on the website, and have every intention of getting as many freebies as is humanly possible. I will be blogging on our experiences – how easy/hard it is to actually get hold of tickets, how different theatres are handling the scheme, whether what we see is any good – on the ArtsProfessional website, and as usual, would welcome comments and information on other people’s experiences, too.
I am not filled with hope at the moment, I have to say. Call me a cynic, but there’s just not enough money behind it to give away tickets without damaging theatres’ revenue. I know that makes me hypocritical for using and abusing the system, but it’s free! And I’ve only not been a student for sixth months, and free stuff makes me happy. Very happy. I’ve noticed already, though, that the Young Vic are limiting people to one booking per year (although you can book up to six tickets at a time, provided each ticket goes to a named under-26 who turns up on the night with ID), and The National’s link from the Arts Council’s website doesn’t work and its own website strangely carries no mention of it. The National, the RSC and the Young Vic all already do their own cheap ticket deals (The National’s Travelex tickets are a tenner, and available to anyone, the RSC do £5 tickets for every show on a first-come first-served basis with at least ten available on the day, and the Young Vic offer £5 to Southwark residents and £10 to students and under-26s anyway), and it will be interesting to see whether these have more or fewer takers. I hope that people who try and book a freebie and miss out will be tempted to book for a small fee anyway, but we shall see.
I’m slightly annoyed that I’ve already booked, for real money, almost everything that I want to see at participating theatres in the next few months, but I only have myself to blame. There’s some good stuff coming up at the National, and a free ticket makes the prospect of paying the train fare to London and dashing to catch the last train home again much more appealing. I’m still upset that the only venue in Cambridge that’s participating is The Junction, when everything good seems to be at the Arts Theatre, especially given that the Arts Theatre’s student/young person reductions are pitiful and never seem to apply to anything I want to see. On a tangential note, the worst culprit for student deals that I have come across is the Theatre Royal, Bath, which takes a quid off prices. A whole quid. Unsurprisingly, it is not offering freebies, either.