Subtexts: Ritual/Extinction: The future of death


A discussion between Matt Lutton, Kimba Griffith, Angus Hervey and Paul Komesaroff.

That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees. Live forever, or die trying.

Death is ubiquitous and universal – but as we move through life, facing the mortality of others and ourselves, we each experience this truth uniquely. How does death unwittingly colour our lives – and, when brought to our attention, do we embrace or ignore it? Are we inspired to create art, challenge current medical boundaries, consider long-standing traditions… or does it terrify us into silence?

With advances in science and technology, death may even be on its way to becoming just another curable symptom of ageing. If death becomes less than inevitable, what might we finally discover about its meaning to us as individuals and cultures? And what new rituals or approaches to death are already being found in an increasingly secular age?

Join us to explore attitudes towards the future of death – from philosophical, medical and artistic perspectives.


Portrait of Matt Lutton

Matt Lutton

Matthew Lutton is Malthouse Theatre’s artistic director and co-CEO. He has most recently directed for Malthouse Theatre I am a miracle, Night at Bald Mountain, The Bloody ChamberDance of DeathPompeii, L.A., On the Misconception of Oedipus, Die Winterreise, The Trial and Tartuffe.

He has also directed The Mysteries: Genesis and The Duel for Sydney Theatre Company, Love Me Tender for Belvoir/ThinIce, and Don’t Say the Words for Griffin Theatre Company. In 2011 he directed the new contemporary opera Make No Noise for the Bavarian State Opera; in 2012 Strauss’s Elektra for West Australian Opera/ThinIce/Opera Australia, and in 2014 Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman for New Zealand Opera/Opera Queensland.

From 2012 to 2012 Matthew was the director of Perth-based theatre company ThinIce, and from 2012 to 2014 he was an Associate Artist (Direction) for Malthouse Theatre. 

Portrait of Kimba Griffith

Kimba Griffith

Kimba Griffith is a jazz musician, celebrant and ‘deathwalker’ with a special interest in bringing death, dying and death care back to families and communities.  Her work encompasses living wakes, community education around end-of-life planning and grief, and emotional/practical support for dying people and their families. She recently held a ‘Death Café’ as part of Dying to Know Day 2015, convened by the Groundswell Project.

Portrait of Angus Hervey

Angus Hervey

Angus Hervey is a science communicator, with a background in environmental economics and international political economy. He is the co-founder of Future Crunch, a forum for critical debate on how recent scientific and technological breakthroughs are affecting the way people live and work.

Portrait of Paul Komesaroff

Paul Komesaroff

Professor Paul Komesaroff is a physician, medical researcher and philosopher at Monash University in Melbourne, where he is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Centre for Ethics in Medicine and Society.

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