This is Patty Crotty.
She is a professor of acting and stage management at the Florida School of the Arts, which I attended for the first two years of college. Although acting didn’t become my career, my time at FloArts was definitely not a waste. It’s where I figured out acting was NOT for me. It’s where I realized I was happiest on the other side of the stage—or camera. It’s where I understood that I wanted a family before I wanted a career. ANY career. And it’s where I met Patty Crotty.
Ms. Crotty is more than an acting teacher. She is a life coach. She made us bring in a current event every Monday of acting class that had nothing to do with the entertainment industry, because–as she put it–actors tend to focus on the entertainment industry only, and there’s a bigger world out there. When I burst into tears while standing on stage during a class, she explained to me that all actors go through this; the sudden realization that you are standing on a stage in front of people you don’t know, exposing your soul to them can be overwhelming. Every actor has to figure out if it’s worth it—if it’s worth the scrutiny and the critiques. It’s why, she explained, that she became a director. It’s why, I would soon decide, I was destined to write and not to act. Unfortunately for me, I have now discovered that writing is just as soul-revealing as acting, probably more so!
In Pedestal, I refer to Ms. Crotty’s acting class when Edwin mentions his acting teacher made him bring in current events. In Duel, I bring up the Macbeth curse, something I learned about from Ms. Crotty. I am able to write about actors in my Backstage Mystery series because I KNOW actors. I also know how to analyze characters and bring them to life because Ms. Crotty taught me that technique when preparing for a part. I’m sure there are many more references to her influence in my books, and most likely there will be more! She was instrumental in my development as a writer, even though she never taught me sentence structure or verb usage. What she did teach me is character development, both my own and in fiction.
So this is a tribute to her and a thank you. Thank you from me, personally, and thank you on behalf of all of the students she has helped and guided along the way, whether they succeeded in acting or not. I am proof that her teaching skills and care for her students goes well beyond the classroom.
Patty Crotty, I salute you!