The Last Man to Die (2010)

"The Last Man to Die" was Last Man to Die's major work for 2010. This one-hour interactive, cross-artform work was performed throughout Australia and, in particular, was featured in Brisbane Festival 2010's Under the Radar program and The Blue Room's season "Young Enough to Do It Anyway" (Perth).

complete recording


A review of our Perth performances was published in The West Australian on 6/10/2010. 
Last Man to Die collective’s self-titled hybrid-arts show on tour at the Blue Room is an engrossing piece of futuristic fantasy... the performance is cleverly structured so you “get it” as it goes along, and the audience participation is non-threatening and often a lot of fun.
The full review can be found here and an unedited version on the author's blog here.


This page explains details of the concept and content of this work. To start with, the following video gives a quick (90 second) overview:

This video is a full recording of one of our prototype performances at The Street Theatre, Canberra, in July 2010.

Overview and Staging

"The Last Man to Die" is a performance / installation involving a interactions between the audience, computer driven audio and visuals and live performers.
The venue is transformed into an abandoned museum from the future that celebrates humankind's ability to extend their lifespan indefinitely.
On entering the venue, audience members are presented with a special ticket featuring a QR code that can be scanned during the performance.
The venue features two areas:
  1. A theatrette area with seats surrounding a large screen and featuring the ticket scanning station.
  2. A small performance area, mainly lit with projected visuals. A small number of audience members can view this area at a time.
Ideally, the two venues are separate rooms, with the performance area smaller than the theatrette. Depending on the venue, separating the two areas could be as simple as using two ends of the same space.
During the performance, audience members scan their codes to boot up "exhibits" in the performance area. The theatrette screen shows a camera's eye view of the current exhibit in the performance area and recorded residue of previous performances of the same exhibit.
While an exhibit is being performed, the audience may still scan their tickets which manipulates theatrette visuals and aspects of the current events in the performance area.
Exhibits are designed to be around 3 minutes in length, with 10 exhibits being performed in one showing. A typical performance night would consist of 3 showings, around 40 minutes each with 20 minutes break for the performers giving a total opening time of around 3 hours. In between showings, the performance area is closed or darkened and the theatrette continues to function as an autonomous installation. Audience members are free to arrive and leave at any time during the performance.

The Exhibits

"The Last Man to Die" consists of 9 exhibits spanning three time periods of three possible realties. The premise of the three realities are:
  • Humans merge with computers (cybernetic)
  • Humans extend life through biological manipulation (biological)
  • Humans transcend humanness through spontaneous evolution (transcendence)
The three time periods of each reality tell the story of "The Last Man to Die" - a person who, for whatever reason, will not or cannot join human society in immortality. The time periods roughly correspond to:
  • exposition - presenting the context of each reality
  • climax - presenting a conflict between the individual and social movement towards extended life
  • conclusion - presenting a reaction by society to the death of the last man
The nine exhibits form a grid:

Cybernetic - exposition Cybernetic - climax Cybernetic - conclusion

Biological - exposition Biological - climax Biological - conclusion

Transcendence - exposition Transcendence - climax Transcendence - conclusion

Progression through these sections is controlled by the audience. After one exhibit has finished, the computer system allows the next scanned QR code to trigger a new exhibit. The audience’s tickets each allow a one step movement through the grid of exhibits which wraps around an any edge so that, for example, movement forward from a conclusion starts again a an exposition. The nature of this scanning mechanism means that scenes are not necessarily presented in chronological order, but mixed up.

The audience is not required to deduce some kind of ordered narrative from this, but the exhibits in each column and row are designed with common tone and performance techniques so that the audience can explore movement between them in a worthwhile way. This system does not allow consecutive performances of the same exhibit, but one exhibit may come up multiple times in each showing. Apart from the specific exhibits that are triggered, we have an arching tone of performance through each showing. Although this performance is improvised and changes according to interaction with the audience, exhibits towards the start of a showing tend to be more didactic in tone, and those towards the end, more emotive.

The performers:

  1. Actor – Hanna Cormick is the focus of the performance area, presenting text, movement and mask associated with each exhibit.
  2. Artist / Facilitator – Benjamin Forster performs live drawing and visual manipulation during the performance and also acts a facilitator for the audience’s interaction and circulation between the two areas.
  3. Musician / Facilitator – Charles Martin performs throughout the exhibits using electronic percussion instruments and also facilitates the audience’s involvement.

Stage layout