On the 15th of February I was able to take a backstage tour at the National Theatre on the Southbank of London. I was able to do this for free through my school (CAPA international education), but the price for a group ticket is 7.50 pounds and an individual ticket would probably be more. As part of the tour we started in the Olivier Theatre; NT’s biggest stage. This is where they host their biggest shows. The tour guide was very nice and explained how the theatre was designed and how different parts of the tech worked (like the lifting stage). We then were able to go into the backstage area and see some props for King Lear and another show call Emile and the Detectives. We then went to see the smaller stage they have and took a tour of the workshops where they make and store the props and into a rehearsal room. We also were able to visit their temporary theatre. The tour was extremely interesting, especially for me who is in to and has done some work for the theatre. I think this would be interesting though, for most people and the tour guide kept us entertained with stories about actors and productions. She was also available for any and all questions and it came up that “standing seats” and “day tickets” are a thing. So…
How to see the theatre for cheap
At the National Theatre shows taking place in their main stage, aka their big productions cost from 15 pounds to 50 pounds. These tickets also often sell out quickly depending on the show. Tickets for King Lear, for example has been sold out until the end of May since mid-February. The way to get seats for popular how then is to either get day or standing tickets. For every show every day, NT holds back some tickets. I do not know if these are only the 15 pound tickets that are on the upper balcony (there are two levels and the prime seats are on the lower level) or if other seats are also available. Getting these tickets can be a bit of a struggle. You have to queue early in the morning before the box office opens and 9:30am. Apparently for popular shows, like King Lear, people start lining up at 5:30 am and the last person to get a ticket had been there before 8 am on the day I went.
Another way to get to see a show for really cheap is to get standing tickets. Standing tickets are all 5 pounds and can only be bought on the day of the show. Furthermore, they can only be bough if the show is completely sold out, day tickets and all. There must be a limit on how many can be bought, but I do not know. What happens when you get a standing seat is you must stand on the top level in the back for the entire show, no sitting or kneeling. This means that you must stand for over 3 hours to see King Lear. Overall though I think this is a good deal.
To learn more check out my King Lear review; this will be out soon.