Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective was founded in 2010. Our mission is “Making Theatre, Building Community, Facilitating Awareness, and Changing the World (One Play at a Time)“. We believe audiences look to the arts to see beyond themselves and their own boundaries. We believe the arts can be a valuable educational medium capable of bridging cultural gaps. We believe the arts can be a catalyst for social change and personal transformation.  

Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective Inc. is a 501(c) 3 certified non-profit organization. Our vision is 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.

“Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective — year after year — challenges audiences to acknowledge our deepest social conflicts, to sort out options for resolving same, and then to act for social change”– Jim Cavener, Asheville Citizen-Times.

A Note From Our Founder and Managing Artistic Director, Stephanie Hickling Beckman


Dearest Friends

Welcome to our eighth (8th!?!), and what is shaping up to be our busiest season yet.

After an outstanding 7th season, where we brought you the heavily impactful, and racially charged,The Submission; the hysterically funny 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche and our version of a quiche breakfast; the record-breaking,Best of Enemies, presented at Asheville High School; our first time collaborative effort, with Montford Park Players, Othello; and our party of the year, and 1st annual Halloween FUNdraiser, we are launching into a year of first steps. We couldn’t be more excited.

After such a successful season, we were quick to say ‘how could we possibly do better’? But with the help of a fully committed staff and volunteers we are confident that Season 8 will be a game changer for Different Strokes! For the first time, we have planned a season, rather than just picked four plays that appealed to us. This year, we present  “The Power of Words”-  and how we use them to comfort, heal, wound or destroy. Thank you, Jeff Talbot, for giving us the idea with last year’s The Submission, which dramatized the importance of finding better words, if humanity has any hope of moving forward.

In addition to award-winning plays, like Eleemosynary, Every Brilliant Thing, and 12 Angry Jurors, and regional premieres like Alabama Story, we are excited to officially unveil additions to our programming that our own, larger venue will afford us,  Beginning in March, local actor, director, choreographer, and acting teacher, Kristi DeVille will be offering a Socially Conscious Theatre Arts curriculum to our children, under the auspices of Different Strokes!  We are in the development phase of an all-female sketch comedy troupe, which we hope to premiere within the year. Finally, we are in the initial phases of operation with UnderDevelopment, a new original works program, working with several independent Playwrights to the workshop and produce original theatrical works by local writers. We will keep you updated as our best year yet continues to unfold.

We are tremendously appreciative of your generosity last year, in support of the renovation and opening of the Downstage Performing Arts Center. So far we have raised $23,375.00, of our original $30,000.00 goal.  We had hoped to be sharing with you a long-awaited opening date. However, as we know, construction plans are about as dependable as a NC winter advisory. A wrinkle in time for the building’s current tenants equates to a re-imagining of our own timeline. While this was disappointing news for us initially, we are enthusiastic that the new time frame will result in our being able to dedicate more square footage to the auditorium, dressing room, and scene shop. As we spread out we’ll be adding another $20K to our goal Keep watching our website and facebook page for updates. Check out the updated floor plan on our home page.

Your support continues to be instrumental in helping us to meet our expansion goals. As we plan for this next phase of our organizational growth your financial contribution is a vital part of helping us to expand Different Strokes’! vision of excellence, develop new programs and projects, turn new ideas into reality, and executing innovative ways of serving our community and region. Time is of the essence as we secure a stage, lights, sound, seats, and essentials to make the DownStage into an inviting performance venue. Please make your generous and tax-deductible donation today. We know that it is often a challenge to donate in a lump sum if so, we hope you’ll consider making an annual pledge that is payable in monthly increments.

Thank you as always, for coming to our plays., Please continue to support our many other local artists throughout the Asheville community.


Signature New White

Steph Hickling Beckman, Managing Artistic Director

Different Strokes PAC
(828) 484-2014

Steph Hickling Beckman, 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 expresses the diversity we encounter in our everyday lives and finding ways to recognize and honor our differences in a safe and positive environment. Steph currently serves on the board of directors for Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre, and has previously sat on the boards of YouthOutright The Center for Diversity and Education at UNCA, Western North Carolina AIDS Project, The Magnetic Theatre,  and the Black Mountain Arts Center, and served on the committee for Stand Against Racism. She currently serves on the board of the Montford Park Players and Word on The Streets.

Read about our Board of Directors