ONLINE PREMIERE: Margaret Cavendish’s The Unnatural Tragedy staged by the Student Acting Shakespeare Society Vienna.


Margaret Cavendish’s The Unnatural Tragedy (1662) has seen only two public stagings in its history. The latest, produced by the English Department’s very own Student Acting Shakespeare Society (SASS), premiered at the Campus of the University of Vienna in January 2020. A recording of this very special theatre night is now available on YouTube – for your personal entertainment and for use in teaching or research.


“Before COVID, when we were still able to enjoy theatre performances on-site instead of on-screen, we staged Cavendish’s The Unnatural Tragedy. As part of a course led by Harald Freidl, students were in charge of all production decisions. They chose the setting, designed posters, created costumes and stage props, and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. SASS provided additional acting and directorial know-how. It was an amazing collaboration and I couldn't be prouder of everyone involved!” 

Tamara Paier (director, SASS)

“Cavendish’s The Unnatural Tragedy directly links female agency to public speech. By staging this seventeenth-century closet drama in a fine de siècle setting, SASS managed to highlight the historic continuity and iterative nature of the struggle for gender equality. Their production serves as an implicit pointer to our day and age. It tells us that, whether it’s resistance to early-modern codes of conduct, the suffragettes, or the #MeToo movement, the most valuable skill one can teach to young women has always been and still is ‘speaking up.’”

Harald Freidl (project manager, University of Vienna) 

We would like to thank Prof. James Fitzmaurice (University of Sheffield, UK) for his academic support and personal devotion to the project!

We would like to thank the Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies of the University of Vienna for the generous funding of our project! 

Watch The Unnatural Tragedy here!