The college experience is an amalgam of anxiety, excitement, fear and possibility. No one day is quite like the next. Each moment brings something new: a new challenge, a new dream, a new perspective. In many ways, being in college is just like live theatre—a medium that is constantly in flux and keeps everyone involved on their toes, allowing them to grow and learn with every step along the way.
So when you combine the two—college students and theatre—a sort of spectacular spell is cast. It creates an experience so crazy and magical and unexpected that is also completely unforgettable. But that’s not the only thing that makes seeing theatre in college special. As the next generation of theatre makers, the opportunities and experiences afforded to college students are overflowing at the brim, helping to take your theatergoing adventures to the next level. Here are some of my favorites.
New York theatre is a master class in acting, dancing, writing and design. As a budding theatre professional, you can learn so much in the span of a two-and-a-half-hour show. But theatre can teach you more than just artistic skills: it can teach you about the world around you and introduce you to communities, cultures and histories you may never have heard of before. Not only that, but by watching performers live their dreams on stage, you learn about dedication, hard work, professionalism—the lessons are endless, if only you pay attention.
As a college student, I know I’m always looking for a chance to flash my student ID card for a discount or two—and it’s no secret that my favorite time to do this is at the theatre. Discounts abound, but I’ve always found that the best discounts offered are just for college students: at regional theatres, off-Broadway, on Broadway. I’ve seen a Broadway show for $25 thanks to these discounts, so be sure to read up on your favorite theatres’ and shows’ discount and rush policies on their websites and make the most of your student status.
From post-show parties as part of Manhattan Theatre Club’s 30-Under-30 program to master classes with Broadway pros, there are countless chances to attend special events. My favorite op is the American Theatre Wing’s Theatre Intern Network, a networking group for young theatre pros. Most of these special opportunities are cheap and geared toward budding theatre people, so you’ll be able to have exciting theatrical escapades with your friends while staying in-budget.
Some of the best people I’ve met are other theatre-loving college students. From meeting at stage door, during theatre internships or through mutual friends, these kids get it. With my circle of theatre friends, there’s always someone to rush a show with, text about Tony noms or hold a Playbill swap. And being in college, we’re not jaded about the industry—we’re excited about it. We’re all working hard to make our dreams come true and supporting one another along the way, and I wouldn’t trade post-show Schmackary’s with my theatre friends for the world.
The newest endeavor from the Theatre Development Fund, PXP is a program aiming to empower theatre-loving college students (that’s you!) to give their peers all the tools they need for a fun theatergoing experience, from pre-show to post-show. PXP takes all of the best parts of college theatergoing and rolls them into one, and it’s an incredible way to meet other college theatre-lovers. They’ve got tips ’n tricks, plus answers to all your theatre q’s. Want to get involved? You can apply here to be a campus representative, which gives you the opportunity to take small groups of your friends to the theatre and then share your experiences on the PXP blog. Not only will this enrich your two-show days, but it’ll also help you hone your analytical eye and boost your theatre cred.
What’s your favorite part about seeing theatre in college? Let me know in the comments below!
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