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Theatre on a budget

Eight good deals for hard-up culture vultures

Seeking out plays in Paris, but put off by the Odéon's €32 tickets? Not all is lost – memberships, special offers and alternative theatres are great ways to experience the French stage scene without shelling out too much. Here are eight tips from our Theatre editor on how to get the most theatrical bang for your buck. This is the best bet for those who don't want to have to be too organised. With the Théâtre Gérard Philipe, for instance, members' seats are €13 instead of €22 and you get some extra bonuses: friend discounts, reductions in the restaurant and the library, plus the chance to see exclusive sold-out shows (like Pina Bausch). Love thy neighbour really applies here: numerous theatres encourage locals to visit them with discounts for residents of the local arrondissement. At the MC93 in Bobigny, tickets for locals are €15 instead of €25, and residents of the 13th can enjoy seats for €16 instead of €24 at the Théâtre 13. Affordable last minute tickets for matinées are usually available for those with the time and patience to queue, even at venues like the Opéra Garnier and the Odéon. Don't expect premium seats, as the last tickets are usually the least in demand, but you could find yourself in a really good place once in a while. Worth the wait. Unlike membership cards, a theatre card or carnet will allow you to choose to see a play whenever you want to. Two options are available: a €100 pass for 10 plays, like at the Théâtre de Gennevilliers, or a subscription fee (€8 seats with a €20 card fee at the Maison des Métallos). If cheap tickets sound great but you don't want to commit, then opt for days when special discounts are applied – many theatres offer regular cheap seats every couple of weeks. Théâtre 13 does €13 tickets every 13th of the month, La Colline offer €20 seats every Tuesday and the Nouveau Théâtre de Montreuil has €12 seats every Tuesday and Thursday. And don't forget Le Tarmac, which has €5 seats on Thursday afternoons. Most theatres have been able to increase their ticket prices due to their popularity, but some places resist the movement and insist on showing excellent productions on a low budget. Have a look at what La Loge and L'Angora have to offer (€14). Slightly more expensive but still affordable, the Théâtre Dunois has tickets for €16. Why go anywhere else when the quality-quantity ratio is this good? Kiosque Théâtre offer 50% off on tickets for the same day. Located in Montparnasse, Ternes and Madeleine, they will give you a vast range of choice (although 4 tickets minimum for the most popular institutions). Try and get there during the week to avoid queuing, and choose tickets for shows at private theatres – they're much cheaper. In some venues, being the first pays off – 50% off. As soon as a play premieres, run to be the first. The concept, launched in 1991, was created to help the productions of the Théâtres Parisiens Associés. According to places and productions, the premieres run from a week to two, so grab your sneakers and run for it.
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