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Creative Ways of Finding Seats (and Tickets)


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On the thread Standing seats?, Richard53dog wrote,

The NYST used to be very lax. (I'm talking more than 30 years ago) I used to slip into the company box, which is at the back of the orchestra level.

Once, very brazenly, I took a chair and put it at the end of one of the rows of the orchestra section. No one challenged me.

Ah, that opened the floodgates of memory . . .

The State Theater has, or had (I think they've closed them off now, those still living there will know) long corridors on the sides of each ring with doors at either end. One door was at the entrance to the seats on either side of the ring, and the other was all the way down at the extreme end of the curve. Some of us used to sneak into the second ring right corridor (we liked the second ring, but I don't remember why we favored the right) when the ushers weren't looking, walk down to the other end, sit patiently inside on the carpeted steps until the house lights went down and the music began, then quietly open the door and take seats along the sides of the ring. It worked for a while until one usher got wise to us and surprised us just before the curtain went up, and we scattered like a flock of pigeons caught in flagrante delicto. :blush:

I used to sit in the company boxes in the back of the orchestra, too. The view wasn't too good, though.

At the Met, I learned the art of scrounging tickets. My mentor was a woman who spent most of her evenings at concerts, the opera, and, less often, the ballet, and who was the Queen of Comps (complimentary tickets). She taught me that when theaters paper the house, they always do so in pairs, and since they often release the tickets at the last minute, the people on the comp lists often don't have the time to find someone to accompany them. So she instructed me on how to approach likely-looking candidates (identifying them was an art form in itself) and asking them if they had an extra ticket. I managed to get quite a few freebies that way, and my teacher was proud of me. (She later got married and moved to Houston. I don't know if she continued practice her arts on Texan venues or whether her financial condition took a turn for the better and rendered that unnecessary.)

So what are your stories? C'mon, I know you have some . . . :FIREdevil:

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This is somewhat off-topic, but I want to show off the almost-supernatural qualities of Suzanne Farrell and do a little showing off of my own. A couple of years ago I sneaked into the Eisenhower Theater at the Kennedy Center and sat in the last row, slumped down in my seat, watching Farrell rehearse Meditation/Movements. It was thrilling. That night I went to see her backstage and she said, "Thank you for coming to the rehearsal today."

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Once upon a time, when I was in my 20s, I would hang around with a pleading look :beg: hoping someone would offer me an extra. I reached an age, though, when it just felt uncomfortable. This does not mean that when someone now offers me a free ticket, I'm too proud to accept. Oh, no. That's entirely different!

The State Theater has, or had (I think they've closed them off now, those still living there will know) long corridors on the sides of each ring with doors at either end. 

The staff at State Theater fixed the fire exits so that they are Exits. I.e., they will take you down to the street with no reentry into the sides of the rings. I know, because I use those stairs (clearly marked "No Reentry") after performances to avoid the crush on the interior staircases.

In any event, I would advise against taking seats, no matter how empty, in especially conspicuous areas, such as the aisle seats of Row A, First Ring. I know (ahem) someone(s) who sat there, and the usher waited until houselights were down before she applied the boot. That left no time to find a Second- or Third-Ring seat before the next ballet (Liebeslieder) started.

:shhh: Discretion and inconspicousness are key to success in "upgrading."

How can I post this under a pseudo-pseudonym? :unsure::innocent:

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This is a bit off topic but I ask here since the thread is bound to attract ballettalk's more experienced and creative ticket hunters :rolleyes: Please move if appropriate.

Is there a way to get tickets for performances you are desperate to see (but not so desperate as to pay a small fortune for the last remaining seat - the one next to the primeminister's)?

I am frequently away on trips which means that many times I miss the first day of ticket sales. Unfortunately by the second day (if the performance is worth seeing) all the reasonably priced tickets are gone. (That's how I missed the Malakhov Vishneva Swan Lake last Christmass :innocent: )

Is there a waiting list for returned tickets? Or is there the possibility of buying a ticket for less in the last minutes before a performance? What is the etiquete in such cases? Is there any benefit in befriending the ticket sellers? The ones I know seem forbidding and uncompromising and have never suggested anything other than buying the absurdly priced last ticket.

Are the rules different in small venues and big concert halls? Are European ticket customs different?

Also how do standing room tickets work? Does the house have to be sold out to give standing tickets or are they availlable for every performance if you ask? Who do you ask? Is this a practice in European concert halls also? I have never seen anyone except the ushers standing.

I'm new to aggresive ticket hunting and would appreciate every tip however obvious!

Christine

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Also how do standing room tickets work? Does the house have to be sold out to give standing tickets or are they availlable for every performance if you ask? Who do you ask? Is this a practice in European concert halls also? I have never seen anyone except the ushers standing.

It depends on theater configuration and company policy, which can change, particularly when they have lots of empty seats and a rush on standing room. If the theater has the space, that doesn't mean that every company that performs there will offer standing room or will have the same standing room policy.

The box office can tell you what the standing room policy is for each company. Sometimes, you can see this on the company website if they have online ordering, because standing room is listed as "unavailable at this time."

Standing room has been a time-honored policy in Vienna at the Opera House, where ballet and opera performances appear in mixed rep. In 1977 I stood nearly every night for three weeks straight, and I saw the same people on line night after night. One was a woman in her 40's, with a reddish, shoulder length flip that was lacquered, so that when she moved her head, her hair moved with it, like a helmet. She held court among the balding, middle-aged men on line. My understanding of German was pathetically rudimentary, but I could tell that she was discussing every performance of every opera she had ever seen over at least two decades.

But I digress from the topic...

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So what are your stories?  C'mon, I know you  have some . . .  :innocent:

During my salad days I had a great thing going at the 'old Met'. My friend and I would pool our resources and come up with $1.80 for one standing room ticket. I would enter the theater with the t icket, claim my 'spot' and exit the theater and receive a ticket for re-entry (this is still done at the present 'Met'). I would then give my original stub to my friend, who would then go to the side door of the 'Met' (the one nearest the stage door) and tell the weary doorman that he had been backstage and flash the original door stub. This worked for a couple of seasons.

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Anybody remember the lady at the Met who "ran the line" for standing room/tickets?  I remember getting there very early for a place in line, putting my name on a list, getting a number, going for breakfast and being back by a certain time.  (many moons ago).

Well, the lady that ran the line for the opera was named Helen. I haven't bought ballet standing room for a long time but I thought she may have run that too.

Helen died 2 or 3 years ago, I'm not sure what goes on now.

Since this seems to be a true confessions type thread and I have already mentioned some of my misdeeds from my high school/college days, here's the most "creative" I knew. This is going back to the late 60s/early70s. There was a ticket taker, long since fired ,at the NYST, who would take a carefully folded dollar bill instead of a ticket. Once inside, you were on your own to find a seat.

Richard

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