Theatre on a budget in Victoria

Monday Magazine's Janis La Couvee breaks down all the theatre you can handle without breaking the bank.

When I ask people if they go to live theatre, one of the most common remarks is “it’s expensive”.  Yet, the opportunities to see theatre locally on a budget abound. Tickets can be found for less than the price of a good martini or a burger and beer.

First, a shout-out to the Victoria Fringe Festival (August 23-September 3) with all tickets for $11 or less.  You will need to purchase a Fringe button ($6) which is good for all performances.  Ticket sales go directly to the artists with proceeds from the buttons benefiting Intrepid Theatre to assist with producing this beloved festival. If you want to save even more, purchase a shareable 5-Show Munch Card or a 10-Show Frequent Fringer (valid for door tickets only).

Intrepid Theatre also hosts two other festivals–Uno Fest and OUTstages—with savings to be had with passes or by attending Pay What You Can evenings (UNO Fest).

Theatre Inconnu, Victoria’s longest-running alternative theatre company, also offers a Pay What You Can night for every one of their season’s shows.

Season’s tickets are another way to find savings, particularly if the company offers previews—bargains can be had at Langham Court Theatre (home of 2 for $20 previews), St Luke’s Players, Blue Bridge Theatre, UVic Phoenix and the Belfry. Preview nights for cabarets produced by the award-winning Atomic Vaudeville are currently $18. Theatre Inconnu season’s passes are another good buy.

Victoria is home to two companies that produce a regular season of improvised theatre ­—Paper Street Theatre Company and Broad Theatrics (home to Sin City, the Live Improvised Serial) with affordable ticket options (regular tickets $15), including an even more affordable season pass or munch card.

If the idea of taking a chance at last minute seats appeals to you, the Belfry Theatre offers rush tickets (40% off) for every one of their performances (subject to availability) and Blue Bridge Theatre has student rush tickets.

Several institutions train the next generation of theatre artists—the University of Victoria, Canadian College of Performing Arts and the Victoria Academy of Dramatic Arts (VADA)—and often offer work in development. Entrance to the TD Festival of New Works (March 2018) at CCPA is by donation with proceeds to benefit student scholarships. SATCo (Student Alternative Theatre Company) at UVic offers lunch time shows during winter and spring with a suggested donation of $4. Students at VADA present a scene study showcase (tickets $10).

Intrepid Theatre’s YOU Show was started in 2010 as a platform for local emerging artists to launch their new work and offers shows from September through May. Tickets are usually $10.  Since its inception, the YOU Show has launched nearly 40 new shows from a diverse group of local artists.

Play readings, featuring actors reading a script, with limited design elements, can be experienced at the Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival, Readers’ Theatre (hosted by Langham Court Theatre) and Puente Theatre’s World Play (a series of reading of plays from around the world) and are often by donation.

One final consideration. Currently in Victoria there are over 50 theatre companies, from professional to community-based, long-established to emerging, catering to audiences from children to seniors; most have volunteer opportunities and offer free tickets in exchange for volunteer hours.  There’s a world of affordable theatre in Victoria—happy exploring!

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