Walking from the Obelisco down Avenida Corrientes, it is easy to see why this stretch is called the Broadway of Buenos Aires. The dazzling lights, giant billboards, and sidewalks crammed with people give the area a certain Bright-Lights-Big-City vibe that isn’t really present elsewhere in the city, unless your idea of bright lights extends no further than the hipster fairy lights that litter the craft beer bars of Palermo Soho. This part of downtown is filled with theatergoers, tourists, and busy locals alike, looking for cheap tickets or a place to go for dinner and a pre-show drink.
There is truly something special about this part of the city, even for someone who might consider themselves a theater dummy. From the world-famous Teatro Colon just a few blocks from the Obelisco, to the Teatro Nacional Cervantes on Avenida Cordoba, to the prestigious Teatro General San Martin on that glamorous stretch of Corrientes Avenue, you are truly spoiled for choice from the get-go when it comes to live entertainment and the performing arts.
The great thing about Buenos Aires is that there is an almost ridiculous number of theaters of every imaginable size, putting on every conceivable type of show, from the huge musical productions in the venues mentioned below, to independent comedies, dramas, and other alternative shows in more modest locations. These smaller spaces are located all around the city, from glitzy Avenida Corrientes to the cultural hubs of Almagro and Villa Crespo.
You may well have already been to some of the city’s best-known theaters, which are always bringing in big names from Broadway and winning the occasional prestigious award. For example, Sunset Boulevard is currently showing at Maipo Theater and Fiddler on the Roof is on at Astral Theater, both of which have received some raving reviews. Other major theaters on this stretch, which bring in heavy-hitters and some incredible shows, include Teatro Picadero and the Metropolitan Theater. However, tickets to these shows can set you back anywhere between AR $300 and AR $1,100, depending on which tickets you opt for, and despite these being incredible shows, most of them aren’t exactly unique to Buenos Aires.
Unless you can secure yourself a pair of highly sought-after free cheap seats (which, let’s face it, never come with a great view and often come without an actual chair), these theaters tend to offer tickets for a high price. And while we sincerely recommend that you a sneak a peek at these aforementioned beauties while you are in town, we also totally get that you might want to remove yourself from the overdone tourist hangouts and experience something a little more… let’s say… cultured. That’s why we have picked out some of the highest-rated and quirkiest places we could find so you can do so, without breaking the bank to snag a decent view of the stage.
Once you delve into the huge catalogue of theaters on offer, it can be quite overwhelming to decide where to go if you don’t have enough variables to narrow down your Google search. Instead, we suggest taking a look at the following hand-picked options which will give you a great place to start if you feel like heading to a high-quality show, without the overwhelming price-tag.
Galpón de Guevara, Guevara 326, Chacarita
Galpón de Guevara is an independent theater located in Chacarita, which opened its doors in 2011 with a view of providing local artists with a space in which to be able to deliver their work without the need hold back on their artistic vision. They put on a huge variety of productions every year, from emerging groups that range from physical theater to spoken word.
Current listings include the critically acclaimed musical La Desgracia, which is showing on Monday evenings at 9 PM; Un Manifiesto, a show that uses spoken word, physical theater, and music to relay stories of humanity, which is showing on Sundays at 8 PM; and Citali, a well-received musical of feminism and the dilemmas that come with power, showing Saturdays at 11 PM. Pay between AR $200 and AR $500 for a ticket, depending on the show and the day.
La Pausa Teatral, Av. Corrientes 4521, Almagro
La Pausa started entertaining Almagro four years ago, when it was converted from an old hat factory into a space for showcasing a variety of performances. Currently listing three shows, including the very highly rated La Shikse, a comedy that addresses the rarely discussed theme of Judaism in the modern world and how attitudes and perceptions of Judaism have changes in recent years; and Goy, a musical comedy about a man who abandons his entire life to live with a cockroach and subsequently questions the major themes of existence (calling Kafka!), this place is an artistic hub that won’t fail to make you think.
The space houses a small stage, which can occupy up to 44 audience members, and you can reserve tickets for these shows through their website, with prices ranging from AR $200 to AR $300.
El Camarin De Las Musas, Mario Bravo 960, Almagro
El Camarín De Las Musas opened at the end of 2001, in the midst of the country’s most recent significant economic crisis. From a difficult start, the theater grew to become a place for artists to teach and learn as well as perform. Today, they perform hundreds of shows per year from a variety of groups, and also accommodate many teachers, actors, musicians, and artists.
Current listings include the musical comedy called Warangas Night Show, which is described as a cross between cabaret, burlesque, vaudeville, and sideshow, and follows a group of characters that are full of humor and self-confidence. El Camarín is also showing Casa Linguee, a dramatic comedy that follows the dreams, desires, and miseries of the employees of a funeral parlor and the events that follow the arrival of an unexpected replacement employee.
Tickets for shows at El Camarín De Las Musas can be bought directly from their website and will cost anything from AR $100 to upwards of $400 depending on the show.
Timbre4, México 3554, Boedo 640, Boedo
Timbre4 was opened by director Claudio Tolcachir in the artistic neighborhood of Boedo in 2002 with the play La omisión de la familia Coleman. The play was such a success that Timbre4 was put on the map and the theater opened a second location to cater for the demand. Today, La omisión de la familia Coleman is performed at Teatro Metropolitan Sura, but Timbre4 continues to bring in hugely popular and critically acclaimed shows.
Shows scheduled for July include Sola no eres nadie, a play exploring the modern struggles of sexual identity which has already received many awards and excellent reviews; and La calma mágica, the bizarre story that follows a job interview that leads to hallucinations and the questioning of everything.
There is a huge variety of shows on offer at Timbre4, which you can find and reserve on their website for prices upwards of AR $170.
Teatro Porteño, Av. Corrientes 1630
Teatro Porteño is located right in the center of the magic on Avenida Corrientes, and while it is a little more understated than the other theaters on the block (oblivious, you might walk right past the entrance which is located down some inconspicuous stairs), don’t let that lower your standards. The 112-seat theater brings in plenty of talent to entertain you, and it takes pride in its porteño namesake in the productions it chooses to host.
It’s a place run by young directors, actors and artists, putting on high quality productions and aiming to develop artists and encourage creativity from emerging talent. The best part is that this place often offers productions a la gorra, which means that you pay a voluntary contribution at the end of the show.
Current productions include the reputable porteño improvisation show, Fabio “Mosquito” Sancineto, which is in its 17th uninterrupted year and relies on audience members to choose a theme and a title upon which the actors then improvise. Another piece currently being performed is Las Destructoras, a musical comedy about three women who go on tour performing in various places and falling out with each other along the way.
Both of these shows are performed a la gorra and you can find out about reserving a space through their website.
La Carpinteria, Jean Jaures 858, Almagro
La Carpinteria is an independent theater located in Almagro that hosts performances from a variety of acts every month. Many of these are a la gorra, and if not, they tend to be on offer for between AR $200 and AR $350.
Current performances include Shakespeare’s Othello, adapted by Gabriel Chamé Buendía; and 120 Kilos of Jazz, a comedy about a man who goes undercover in a Jazz Band in order to gate-crash a party. Tickets to both of these shows, plus all other productions are available online.
There are so many incredibly talented artists performing all over the city every day, that this list is really only a drop in the ocean; if you want to find out more about different alternative and independent shows on offer, most of them are available through Alternative Teatro, a website dedicated to theater in Buenos Aires.
Either way, we recommend you leave Netflix alone for the night, get your show business hat on (sequins optional), and head down to the theater.