Undoubtedly, every time we pitch The Last Survivor, we are asked about the title – “Who is the ‘Last Survivor’?” The short answer to the question is that we cannot name for you whom the ‘Last Survivor’ is. The long answer is best given by a consideration of family trees – a phenomenon for which we have found a particular fondness among the Survivors with whom we have worked.
For many of us, family trees are a means by which we can remember our roots. Survivors tend to view family trees as an exercise in imagining what is to come. There is an optimism provided by a family tree that is difficult to express in any other form: it is a visual expression of the act of continuation. To Survivors, it often represents their ultimate triumph in a world which sought to destroy them and those who would follow.
Hédi Fried refers to such a revival of spirits as rebirth – the reawakening of life’s splendor in one who has passed through great horror. Tied up in such an awakening is more than the ability to attune oneself once again to life’s pleasures. It is the fulfillment of a deeper need to find meaning and purpose in one’s life. And while it may be difficult to see through the trauma that undoubtedly hinders one’s vision after such an atrocity, the branch upon which any survivor sits – a branch that serves as a lone connector between those of the past and those to be birthed in the future – is one of unparalleled meaning.
As each of us move through the branches of our family trees, not only do we tumble in the same direction, but if one were to remove the leaves, fruit and flowers blossoming from our trees, she might see that that which we believe to be a tree in itself is merely a large branch. The tree of which we are all apart is far more magnificent than those we dreamed of climbing in even the most ambitious of our childhood daydreams.
So, who is ‘The Last Survivor’?
Unfortunately, it appears unlikely that any of us will have the pleasure of meeting this elusive being in our lifetime. A crime as old as genocide and fears as ancient as intolerance cannot be destroyed in a single generation. That is why we celebrate the continuation provided to each of us within our family trees – a forward movement that allows our work to be continued when we can no longer fight ourselves. By recognizing that we are bound not by the time we are permitted in this world, but only by the legacies we can pass on to coming generations, we can be comforted by the fact that while it is not likely that any of us will have the opportunity to meet the last to survive the horror of genocide, we can be certain that if we speak loud enough, our voices will be heard even then.
SCREENING DETAILS BOOK ONLINE @ Bella Union
Win a FREE ticket by entering the Run for Refugees! ASRC’s major fundraiser. Sign up at www.run4refugees.org.au and let Arts in Action know you have registered for the event. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your registration details to score a ticket!