The Best Places to See Theatre in Summer

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Summer is here, at last! After a year of writing out essays or pushing through student life, some people might like to chill watching their favourite movies or take a trip abroad. What better way to spend your summer than to dig out the best theatres and watch some cultural plays? Here are some of the best places to see theatre this summer, and some tips on how to save money with it - we’re students after all!

Shakespeare's Globe – London

Located on the bank of the River Thames, this world-renowned theatre needs no introduction.

The main attractions this summer are Henry IV Part I, Henry IV Part 2 and Henry V. On selected ‘trilogy days’ you can watch back-to-back performances of all three of these Shakespearean history plays, saving you 15% on the total cost. Additionally, The Merry Wives of Windsor is showing between 25th June and 12th October.

If you’re looking for more from your theatre trip, 30-40 minute guided tours take place every day, all year round with the exception of 24th and 25th December. Tickets cost £17 for a standard ticket and £13.50 for a student ticket with ID.

Furthermore, there’s no need to break the bank with 700 tickets available for every Globe Theatre performance at only £5!

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – London

Opened in 2014, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse was built using 17th century plans of Jacobean indoor playhouses, of which Shakespeare would have been familiar with, and is located close to the Globe Theatre. What makes this theatre unique? All performances are ambiently candlelit!

Whilst the Sam Wanamaker predominantly runs during the winter season (October to April), select shows are available throughout the Summer.

Songs of Lear (part of the Shakespeare and Poland Festival) tells the story of King Lear through a refreshing and interesting combination of a cappella singing, folk instruments and choreography. Limited to two performances on 6th July, I am sure this is a must-see for fans of contemporary theatre. Ticket prices range from £7 to £45.

If Shakespeare is not your thing, do not fear - an exclusive stage performance of Michael Morpurgo’s An Elephant in the Garden is showing on 26th July - tickets costing a reasonable £15pp.

Sheffield Theatres – Sheffield

London isn’t the only place to see great theatre this Summer! Sheffield has a great selection of theatres, including the Lyceum Theatre, the Crucible Theatre and the Studio Theatre.

This Summer’s performances include:

Life of Pi (the Crucible Theatre).

HAIR, Little Miss Sunshine, Horrible Histories: Terrible Tudors/Awful Egyptians, Educating Rita, Avenue Q (the Lyceum Theatre).

King Lear Retold, Electrolyte, Really Want to Hurt Me, Launchpad 2019 (the Studio Theatre).

Sheffield’s ‘Live For 5’ initiative for 16 to 26 year olds offers £5 tickets for most of their performances. These discounted tickets go on sale the first Friday of the month at 5pm for the following month’s shows, with a minimum of 40 tickets available per production. All you have to do is register online for free!

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre – Stratford-upon-Avon

Where better to watch some of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays, such as The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It and Measure for Measure this Summer than the birthplace of the genius himself?

Situated alongside the River Avon, this Grade II listed, 1,018-seat theatre underwent a three-year transformation project which was completed in 2010 with the addition of a rooftop restaurant and viewing tower amongst other developments.

Non-Shakespearean plays also available this Summer include Kunene and the King, the Provoked Wife and Venice Preserved.

Take advantage of the 40 available £5 tickets for 16-25 year olds (with proof of age) for every performance! This discount is only obtainable from one hour before the performance from the Box Office. Further discounts include First Time Fridays - £10 tickets for first time visitors (limited to 20 tickets per performance), and Rush Tickets – last-minute tickets from £10 released every Friday for the following week’s performances (available online from noon).

Otherwise tickets range from £16 to £59.50.

To make the most of your experience at this theatrical landmark, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre offers a large selection of tours, each lasting an hour. Tours include: Audition Tour, Front of House Tour, From Page to Screen Tour, Behind the Scenes Tour and Open Air Tour. Details of each tour are available on the RSC website.

Additionally, Explorer Passes can be purchased for £15 which include a theatre tour, tower visit and entry into this Summer’s exhibition - The Play’s the Thing – saving you £5.

The Marlowe Theatre – Canterbury

If you’re looking for somewhere a bit closer to campus, why not visit Canterbury’s own Marlowe Theatre? My bet is that you’ve walked past it a hundred times, but never stepped inside!

The range of variety on show is immense. Some top picks include:

Live at the Marlowe (20 July) as part of The Marlowe Comedy Festival (15 - 28 July) featuring stand-up comedy performances from Joel Dommett, Nick Helm, Andrew Maxwell and Laura Lexx.

Musicals such as Madagascar: The Musical, Little Miss Sunshine, Fame, Blood Brothers and Motown The Musical.

The Girl on the Train (20 – 24 Aug), a stage adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ 2015 psychological thriller starring EastEnders and Kingsman: The Secret Service star Samantha Womack.

The National Theatre Live Productions – Selected Cinemas Across the Country

If you can’t get to any of these theatres, why not check out your local cinema listings?

Founded in 2009, National Theatre Live “brings the best of British theatre to cinema screens all over the UK and around the world. Their most viewed performance was the 2015 production of Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role. This summer’s broadcasts include Small Island, All My Sons, All About Eve and The Lehman Trilogy.

Availability and prices vary depending on cinema location.

Participating cinemas close to campus include the Gulbenkian and the Curzon Canterbury.