The Company

Australia’s premier Deaf artist, Asphyxia, established her internationally acclaimed performing arts company of the same name, in 1999. It remains one of only two professional Deaf theatre companies in Australia. Asphyxia and the company have a reputation for excellence across the Australian arts industry.

Veronica Pardo, Executive Director of Arts Access Victoria says,

"Asphyxia is a highly respected artist who delivers high quality work that breaks new ground and demonstrates her commitment to her artistic practice and outcomes. Asphyxia, and her company's, significant achievement and profile in the arts serves as tremendous inspiration to emerging and aspiring artists with a disability, particularly those in the deaf and hard of hearing community. We believe her work transcends the limitations imposed on disability arts and challenges conventional ways of seeing art and disability. Her passion for transforming assumptions that are made about deafness through high level artistic practice make her one of Australia's most important cultural innovators."

Asphyxia creates works that reflect and strengthen Deaf culture and values, and celebrate difference. Asphyxia, and the company, have produced and toured full length circus productions, but in more recent years have shifted focus to highly original marionette puppetry productions.

"I love that through my performances I can immerse hearing audiences in the lyrical and evocative world of sign language while providing quality theatrical experiences that are accessible to everyone including the Deaf community" says Asphyxia.
Asphyxia is supported by a team of creative artists and arts administration professionals. The team include: performer and co-devisor Paula Dowse; producer Roe Ritchie; directors Kelly Parry & Gabrielle Griffin; puppetry director Heath McIvor; composer Ania Reynolds; production manager Nathalie Devillers; assistant set builder Jade Primrose; and designer Jenine Davidson.

Recently their work has expanded into new mediums. Allen & Unwin Publishing has commissioned Asphyxia, and the company designer Jenine Davidson, to produce a series of children's books based on The Grimstones. Company producer Roe Ritchie is also researching an expansion into the enticing world of interactive storytelling for children using new and emerging interactive technologies.

Meanwhile, Asphyxia and Paula run a popular workshop program the new Grimstones Laboratory is touring the country, and with support from the Australia Council for the Arts and the Besen Foundation both The Grimstones – Hatched and The Grimstones – Mortimer Revealed are on the road nationally and internationally.

Check out The Grimstones' recent tour highlights and Asphyxia's creative projects.

Commitment to creativity and the environment:

The Grimstones philosophy is to produce work that encourages creativity among ordinary people, to have fun while making things that are environmentally sustainable. All the sets and props in The Grimstones productions have been up-cycled from discarded junk. In doing so we have reduced landfill and all the resources needed to create and ship something new.

Because our touring requires a lot of plane travel we reduce our resource use as much as possible in the rest of our lives. We grow almost all of our own food around our little hand built house in suburban Melbourne, including raising our own meat. For more information on our sustainable lifestyle visit Asphyxia’s blog. 


Asphyxia and The Grimstone Team's Objectives

  • To find new and innovative ways to tell stories that celebrate difference, across a range of mediums
  • To create original gothic fairytales without villains
  • To rediscover the old world art of marionette puppetry for a contemporary audience
  • To attract people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to the Grimstones World, especially those who have yet to experience the magic of theatre
  • To reach audiences nationally and internationally
  • To create work that transcends the limitations imposed on disability arts and challenges conventional ways of seeing art and disability
  • To inspire emerging and aspiring artists with disabilities