Different Strokes Performing Arts Collective

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective Inc. is a 501(c) 3 certified non-profit organization which purposes to increase and sustain opportunities for more diversity within the Western North Carolina performing arts community, by producing, and working with other performance artists or groups to present works which confront issues of social diversity in a provocative way; and by providing opportunities for audiences to explore visions of our diverse world.

Steph Hickling Beckman, our co-founder, has been active in Asheville’s theatre scene since 1999. She has worked with several local theatre companies as an actor, stage manager and director, and toured nationally as an actor. As the Managing Artistic Director for Different Strokes!, Steph is committed to directing and producing theatre that makes a difference. Steph serves on the board of directors for YouthOUTright, The Center for Diversity and Education at UNCA, and the Magnetic Theatre, and has previously sat on the boards of the Montford Park Players and the Black Mountain Arts Center, and the Western North Carolina AIDS Project.

A Message from Our Founder:

Stephanie Hickling BeckmanI’m Steph Hickling Beckman, co-founder and Managing Artistic Director of the non-profit, Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective, and we’d like to thank you for your interest in our Organization. We have a mission to diversify the performing arts community, by staging, producing and working with other performance artists, and local organizations, to present works, which confront issues of social diversity in a provocative way.  We highlight the differences in our community that make us unique, and offer opportunities to dialogue, explore and better understand them. We support all areas of diversity, and difference, as reflected in our delightfully eclectic community. We believe that the performing arts surpass racial, cultural and social divides.  We believe that audiences look to the arts to see beyond themselves and their own boundaries.  We believe that the arts (theater in particular) can be a valuable educational medium capable of bridging cultural gaps.

Our mission statement alone, sets us apart as a community driven catalyst for social change. Not only is Different Strokes! one of the few theatre companies to compensate all artists who work with us, we are the only local company to donate a portion of our ticket sales,from every production,to a local non-profit organization who shares our vision for a more culturally integrated, and cohesive community. Since our inception in 2010, we have proudly donated over $3,500.00 to community organizations, as named on our website. We look forward to working with other local non profits during our upcoming season, which will be presented in The BeBe Theatre's 65 seat black box, located at 20 Commerce Street, in downtown Asheville.

Whether you'd like to see our professional caliber productions, volunteer, audition, make a tax-deductible donation or give us a building...we hope you’ll support Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective in a way that makes the most positive difference in your life.


Steph Hickling Beckman, Managing Artistic Director
Different Strokes PAC
(828) 275-2093

Board of Directors:

C.J. Breland, Chair

C.J. Breland has appeared in NC Stage Company’s Catalyst Series shows A Perfect Ganesh, Birth, The American Dream and The Glass Menagerie. With The Magnetic Field Theatre she appeared in Ruth, and with SART she has acted in productions of To Kill a Mockingbird, Incorruptible and Steel Magnolias. C.J. directed Julius Caesar, A Christmas Carol and Comedy of Errors for Montford Park Players. CJ was an actor in A Lesson Before Dying, and directed Incongruence and The Clean House for Different Strokes! Most of her time is devoted to the roles of Theatre Arts Director at Asheville High School and director of the NC Educational Theatre Association.

Jeremy Brett Carter, Vice-Chair

Jeremy Brett Carter has been involved in theatre for 14 years. As co-producer for Teatro Latino de Asheville, his work includes budgeting, publicity, script selection, casting and writing proposals, and he has also helped take productions on the road to the University of Louisville (KY) and the University of Georgia. He also has extensive experience in stage managing and occasionally appears onstage. Jeremy holds a bachelor of arts degree with majors in mass communications and Spanish, and for the past 15 years he has worked in public relations, marketing and advertising in the non-profit and private sectors. Jeremy was an actor in the very first Different Strokes! Production, Love! Valour, Compassion!.

Trish Hickling Beckman, Secretary

Trish Hickling Beckman is a nurse midwife and hospital administrator. In her professional capacity she is responsible for all clinical and financial operations of the women’s division of a non-profit community hospital. In her leisure time she enjoys theatre in Asheville and spends most of her free evenings with different local theatre companies. She has long wished for more socially provocative themes on stage and is thrilled to support Different Strokes! as a founding board member. Trish’s socially provocative credentials include being a member of the lesbian community, being in an interracial gay marriage and extensive travel to third-world countries. Trish is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Scott Bean (Sound Designer)

Scott Bean is thrilled to serve on DSPAC’s board of directors. He has been seen acting about town for the past 3 years with the Montford Park Players (The Importance of Being Earnest, Troilus and Cressida, The Real Inspector Hound, The Patient, Comedy of Errors, Double Falsehood, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, and Othello), Brevard Little Theatre (The Mousetrap) and the Magnetic Theatre (Brief Encounters). For Different Strokes! he has acted in Love! Valour! Compassion! and The Laramie Project, co-directed A Lesson Before Dying and directed Romeo Loves Juliet: A Modern Love Story.

Cyd Dawson-Smith (Web Mistress)

Cyd grew up in the shadow of the Great White Way. Hailing from Long Island, New York, an appreciation for theater was meant to be. She spent some time acting as a child, but did not truly develop an appreciation for the art until her high school put on a production of Gigi. A stint as Aunt Alicia, and she was hooked. Content to work behind the scenes, she has worked in a variety of capacities supporting local theater, including a role in Different Strokes'! production of Neighbors by Arkady Leokum.

Rodney Smith (Producing Director)

Rodney has been in some form of entertainment for most of his adult life. From his late teens until early twenties he performed stand-up comedy in NY. In his thirties he played guitar, keyboards and sang for rock and blues bands. Finally, in his forties, he discovered a passion for live theater and has put his heart and soul into it for the last 5 years. He began acting with The Montford Park Players and soon after took on other theatrical duties including stage management, board op, resident photographer, graphic design and composing original music. He has starred in three productions for The Magnetic Theatre including Evening the Score (Co-produced with DSPAC), and stage managed Landscape with Missing Person, both in its initial run at The Magnetic Field and a 5 show run in The New York International Fringe Festival. For DSPAC, he starred in the very successful production of Neighbors, and assistant directed the equally successful Jeffrey. Rodney also took on the fantastic feat of writing and directing DSPAC's first Asheville Fringe Festival entry, Table 6. Rodney is a full-time photographer by vocation, and is the owner of Tempus Fugit Design. He is thrilled and honored to bring all of his talents and experience to the role of Producing Director for DSPAC, and is looking forward to growing spiritually and artistically with the company..