Even on an intern's budget, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the region's lively theater scene this summer.
1. Use that student ID.
At Arena Stage, students get 35 percent off, and all student tickets at Studio Theatre are $20. You don't even have to be a student to save: The Kennedy Center's MyTix program offers discounts to age 30 and younger; at Woolly Mammoth, guests younger than 30 are eligible for $20 tickets to any performance, subject to availability.
2. Search the discount sites.
On Ticketplace, you'll often find half-price tickets for shows at Signature Theatre, Theater J, Woolly Mammoth and the Kennedy Center. If you aim for matinee performances or weeknights, you'll find tickets for $15-$25. Via Goldstar, you'll find similar discounts for shows at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Shakespeare Theatre, National Theater and others.
3. Pay what you can.
Woolly Mammoth is just one of the local theaters offering "pay-what-you-can" nights: Line up outside the
theater -- before 5 p.m. if possible -- and pay whatever you can afford, even if it's just a dollar (though at least the equivalent of a movie ticket is standard practice). Woolly's next pay-what-you-can nights are for "Rodney King" on July 8 and "Stupid [Expletive] Bird" on July 28-29. Silver Spring's Forum Theatre has a permanent pay-what-you-can policy for half of the seats at every performance.
4. Attend free shows.
Some of the performance-art pieces at July's sprawling Capital Fringe Festival are free and open to the public. If you volunteer for Fringe, you'll get one free ticket for every shift worked. (The ticketed shows aren't too expensive either: $5 for a mandatory Fringe button, and $17 per ticket.) Later in the summer, Shakespeare Theatre Company's Free for All is a production of "A Winter's Tale," with free tickets distributed via lottery or a first-come, first-served lineup that begins forming about 4 p.m.