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Free Night of Theater Returns! But It's Different!

by Jerome Weeks 8 Sep 2011 8:29 AM

Yes, it’s back. But they’re giving away free tickets to theater and music shows in October through a lottery system. And you’ve got only two weeks to enter.


Three years ago, Dallas joined 120 cities nationwide in a program called Free Night of Theater. It gives away tickets to area shows during the month of October. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports Free Night of Theater is back this year but it’s different.

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You’ll still be able to get pairs of free tickets to live performances in October. In fact, you could possibly win five pairs of free passes. But this year, Free Night of Theater is set up more like a lottery. Before, you simply logged on and requested tickets – over the entire month of October. This year, there’s only a two-week window for you to log on. It opens tomorrow, Friday September 9th and runs through Friday, September 23rd, and you have to pick the five shows in October you’d like to see. If you win any — depending on availability and the random draw — you’ll be notified by e-mail.

It’s called the ‘enter-to-win’ system, and David Denson, media and marketing coordinator for Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs, says the change helps the arts organizations.

Denson: “The problem when you give out free tickets is that sometimes people don’t show up. Sometimes theaters have difficulty deciding what their allotments of free tickets should be – they’re not quite sure what the demand is. And the enter-to-win system makes it a little bit easier for the theaters to plan.”

Theatre Communications Group, a nationwide support organization, pioneered Free Night of Theater as a way to reach new audiences for live stage shows. So far, Free Night has put more than 250,000 people into audience seats. But after peaking at 120 cities in the program, this year, Free Night is down to only two dozen cities.

Denson says, several reasons, mostly budgetary, have led Theatre Communications Group to limit its involvement this year.

Denson: “So the LA Theater Alliance [actually, the LA Stage Alliance] stepped up and said we’d like to offer this enter-to-win system to everyone in the country who’d like to use it.”

To log on and pick the performances you’d like to see, go to — starting Friday, Sept. 9th. The North Texas organizations participating in this year’s Free Night of Theater are:
Contemporary Ballet Dallas

Contemporary Theatre of Dallas

Dallas Asian American Youth Orchestra

Dallas Black Dance Theatre at the Majestic Theatre

Dallas Opera

Dallas Theater Center

Dallas Wind Symphony

Garland Civic Theatre

Jubilee Theatre

Kitchen Dog Theater

MBS Productions

Pocket Sandwich Theatre

Repertory Company Theatre

Rover Dramawerks

Shakespeare Festival of Dallas

Teatro Dallas

Theatre Three

Turtle Creek Chorale

Undermain Theatre

Uptown Players

WaterTower Theatre