Kirsty Provan is a Vancouver actor and writer. She studied at Studio 58 and now works professionally in theatre and film, as well as teaching programs at Trinity Western University, Pacific Theatre, Bard on the Beach and Viva Voce Speech Arts Studio. She founded Pacific Fairytales in 2012, which hires local actresses to bring “faith, trust and pixie dust” to little birthday princesses throughout the Lower Mainland.
Name: Kirsty Provan
Theatre Specialization: Acting/ Writing
Training: One year apprenticeship, Pacific Theatre. Studio 58.
You might know her from: It’s a Wonderful Life (PT), Socrates’ 2nd Wife (PT), The Old Curiosity Shop (UP), The Secret Doctrine (SFU), and my own original script, He Roars (PT).
Vancouver Hood: North Vancouver
Website: http://kirstyprovan.com and http://pacificfairytales.com
Offstage Play: Founder and Operator of Pacific Fairytales
How/ when did your love of princesses begin?
It’s funny, I can’t remember a time when I was specifically passionate about princesses – for me, it was just about living in a world of make-believe. I was blessed to grow up in a home where stories were always being told. The Narnia Chronicles, Peter Pan, Winnie The Pooh, The Princess and the Goblin … my parents were always reading to us. TV was non-existent. My mum gave up her career to raise four children, and she was so present and active in our childhood – playing pirates in the garden, making spaceships out of cardboard boxes, collecting dust on our hands to rub onto jello to watch the mold grow … the list goes on. For me it was the love of imagination, the joy of creating new worlds and languages that stands out more than anything.
How did that initial love grow into “Pacific Fairytales” events? Where did the idea to make it a business come from?
I’ve always worked with children in some form or another. Working as a nanny for me would of course reflect the way I was raised, so parents would always come home to find their living rooms turned into forts, or some kind of crazy re-enactment of Star Wars. Suddenly I was being asked to do birthday parties. Anyone who knows me know that I can’t just do a basic version of anything: It had to be perfect – real silk ball gowns et al. My amazing seamstress mother and I built everything from scratch. The name “Pacific Fairytales” came from one of my favourite books by Frances Hodgson Burnett. In it she says, “I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses.”
I thought if I could show those children- the ones who don’t feel pretty, or smart, or young- how incredibly loved they are, then that would be a company worth starting. It seemed like a pretty good mandate.
What appeals to you about running your own Princess Party business?
I feel like the “business” title is just a giant cover for my Peter Pan “never grow up” scheme. I seriously love everything about what I do, and it’s fantastic because it feeds me as an artist. I get to live in discovery and imagination all the time, I’m constantly working on my improv, and I’m getting paid to do what I love. I also believe there is a huge need for support and community in the arts, and I feel very honoured and thankful that I get to hire talented and passionate actresses in this city who deserve to be getting constant work.
How often do you do Princess Parties while you’re working on a show or acting vs. when you’re in-between gigs? How do you balance all this work that you do?
Ah, balance. That is definitely something I’m working on. I’m very fortunate to have actors/nannies on staffs who are professionally trained and fantastic performers. Honestly, these women come off a gig with the Arts Club, and then they’re in your living room singing “Let it Go.” It’s insane! I am very fortunate to have that flexibility with my work, so if I am in the middle of a show, I can just focus on the admin end of the business, and know I have very capable staff members on the other end of things.
Do you have any great princess party stories? Any mishaps?
We attend the “Cinderella Ball” at the Vancouver Club every year, which is a stunning father/daughter dance with about 175 little girls. I go as Belle, and of course, another actress goes as Cinderella. It’s one of the best audition processes any actress can be put through – you have 175 girls firing questions at you like crazy, and you better know every single possible detail about your life story or you’ll get caught out immediately! My Cinderella came up to me panicked during the evening and said, “a little girl asked me what I do for a job, and I blurted out that I’m in medical school without even thinking! Is that going to be okay?” “Okay?” I said. “I think that little girl’s parents fell in love with you.” Sure enough, throughout the evening, we would hear, “And that’s Cinderella … and do you know that she’s studying to be a DOCTOR daddy – a real doctor!” Not the worst mistake a girl could ever make.
How does this “offstage play” inform / enhance/ supplement your life in the theatre, if at all?
I don’t think I realized at first how wonderful this company would be for my life in the theatre. When I first graduated theatre school, I did what a lot of people do and got a job in the service industry. It didn’t take me long to crash and burn – I was sick all of the time, tired, and my auditions and acting gigs were severely affected by a job that wasn’t supportive of a career in the arts. If I could say anything to students in theatre school and close to graduation, it would be this: get a job that supports your craft. Not just financially, or schedule wise. Find a job that feeds into your passion- be it photography, carpentry, stone work, running a business, whatever. For me, I need the joy of play in my life always. I need to be around like-minded, positive, encouraging creators; for me, that’s children.
Where can people find out more about Pacific Fairytales events?
People can also always check us out at http://pacificfairytales.com. It sounds cheesy to say that “we don’t want to offer a business, but a unique experience”, but it is true. Children have such specific individual passions and needs, and we love to hear about them so that we can add in the little touches that really do make the day completely magical. I built this company to be community based, and human connection is what it’s all about.
Anything else you want to say?
Sarah Silverman once said that we need to stop telling girl’s that they can be whatever they want to be … not because it isn’t true, but because it would have never crossed their minds that they couldn’t. I feel the same way about Princess Parties. Stories didn’t cause me to grow up hunting for Prince Charming. I was too busy venturing out like Cinderella, or reading books like Belle, or collecting treasures, like Ariel. I think that’s been the real joy … realizing what most young girls actually take away from the stories. The same thing I took from the book our company is based on. Inclusivity. Courage. Kindness. Faith.