Marie Aholt | Studio Systems Specialist
As a member of the Studio team, I am very detail-oriented. I like to follow rules and systems. I am also very theatrical. From grade school speeches to high school and community theatre, I usually stayed behind the scenes to ensure that the production ran smoothly. But every once in a while, I would take to the stage to sing, dance and act with abandon.
Once I got a career and an apartment, I drifted further from my passion — until I got a call from a friend asking if I wanted to join a game night with her group of friends. Through her, I was introduced to tabletop role-playing games. I was immediately infatuated with the system, playing with several other theatre-minded folks, taking on the persona of a hero navigating Strega magic, balancing her personal desires against that of her family while ensuring the continuation of mankind by preventing Ragnarok.
I was hooked.
Fast forward several years — I discover Dungeons & Dragons. I know, those three words tend to carry a stereotype: a basement-dwelling, graph paper-loving, “um actually”-spouting nerd. But when I actually stopped and listened to a D&D podcast, I learned that the players don’t have to be that way. By taking a chance and challenging my preconceptions, I opened myself to a new experience that I have fallen in love with. Because the game isn’t about the graph paper or adding up dice rolls. It’s about the characters we choose to become when we play. I can choose to become a character that is 180° different from myself, and through taking on that persona, can gain experiences that transition into my real life.
Because our minds don’t differentiate between how we acquire experience (either through real-life interactions or “theater of the mind” narration). We still internalize those struggles and grow as a result from making those hard decisions that, frankly, wouldn’t come up in our lives any other way. I try to take on as wide of a variety of characters as possible, watching interviews of real-life people from various backgrounds to ensure that I represent these varied characters respectfully. I now run a D&D campaign for Barkley partners, and it has been one of the greatest challenges of my life.
Five Questions with Marie Aholt
What do you do when the ideas won’t come?
When the creative bucket is empty, it’s time to refill it. I read short stories, watch an episode of a new TV show, listen to a podcast or interview — just shake up my brain and give it fuel to get going once more.
Who or what is your creative muse?
When it comes to storytelling, I look to Brandon Sanderson. I love his books. He’s written the best representation of depression and anxiety that I’ve read in the Fantasy genre. His worlds have a depth that he just hints at. And his cadence of book releases is astounding.
What’s one belief or mantra you wished everyone held?
Anything that I do, I am putting my name on. It had better be the best that I could do at the time. Everyone should take pride in what they do, if nothing else, for the attempt at doing something. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but so long as you tried your best, you shouldn’t fault yourself. Growth doesn’t stop at adulthood.
What's an unpopular opinion you feel strongly about?
Duergar. It’s pronounced “DWER•gar” not “du•er•GAR.” They’re dwarves! You don’t call them “du•ARVES.”
What bugs you? What don't you get? Romance. I like it as a tool for storytelling, but my brain just shuts down when trying to portray a character in a romantic setting. My a-romantic brain rejects verbal involvement with it. But I can write romantic scenes no problem. It’s a frustrating work in progress.
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Dec 06, 2021
People of Barkley
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