What Is The Different Between Off And Off Off Broadway Theaters?


April 26, 2014 by elainelorent

We all know the difference between a Broadway and an Off Broadway show. In general we simply distinguish the term according to the fact that the play takes place on Broadway or not.

But what about Off Off Broadway? What is the difference between an Off Broadway and an Off Off Broadway show? Hum.

Well the difference is quite straightforward: Off Off Broadway theaters have no more than 100 seats. Ok. But wait … I interned this semester in a theater that had 135 seats and it was still called an Off Off Broadway theater. Why? There are actually a couple of reasons that make the distinction between both:

  • In size Broadway and Off Broadway theaters are bigger than the Off Off ones. Not a new news though.
  • Any theater that works with “union” actors (except Broadway union) is an Off Off Broadway theater.
  • Off Off Broadway does not mean that the play is performed by amateurs. The actors range from really established and professional actors to beginners.


This is mainly what makes the distinction nowadays. But originally, and it’s where it gets interesting in my opinion, the term Off Off Broadway was used to refer to theaters that were in a complete opposition to commercial theaters and big productions. It was referring to a bunch of adventurous and highly experimental companies that were performing below the 14th street in NYC.

I have to admit that I am a theater fan. Back in Belgium, I was going approximately every two weeks. Here in New York City? This is just financially impossible to keep doing it… The Off Off Broadway Theater has revealed itself as a good solution for me. I have seen so far really interesting and somewhat perturbing plays. But it’s always a good experience!

For the ones who may be curious and may want to learn more, I strongly recommend you to go see one of those Off Off Broadway shows. It is usually not expensive and in general, the companies are not-for-profit theaters. You can find multiple websites that promote the genre, but this is the one I use the most: http://www.theatermania.com/off-off-broadway/

If by any chance, you went to one and you loved it, don’t hesitate to let a comment with the name of the place and play. I would love to go! Thanks!


One thought on “What Is The Different Between Off And Off Off Broadway Theaters?

  1. Michael McGrinder says:

    Nice post. I was fortunate to be one of that original “adventurous” bunch. I’m now writing about my own involvement, and am trying to preserve some of the better plays in danger of being lost via my press:.http://oldreliablepress.com/. While it is true that most productions took place below 14th Street, there were others above, and even on 14th. My first production, in February 1967, was a pair of one-acts at The Playwrights Workshop on 23rd Street and 7th Avenue. Other “northern” notables included The Dove Company and The Quaigh. Probably others; just can’t recall them right now.

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