“Monsters at Work” and post-grad anxieties

As a senior theatre major, I have been giving a lot of thought to my post-grad plans. When I do, I often end up paralyzed with anxiety and give up after an hour or so. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Broadway has been dark and theatre professionals have been working hourly part-time jobs and gig jobs to get by. Broadway is beginning to open back up this fall, but it still feels too early. I do not think it is safe yet, and I do not want to work there. Furthermore, the field has changed so much in the past year and a half that I have little to no idea what to expect. I feel lost in my career, and that is terrifying as my graduation looms ever nearer.

When the Disney+ show “Monsters at Work” was released, I had no idea what it was about; I was simply desperate for something to watch and thought it might be cute. In the first episode, we meet Tylor Tuskmon. He graduates from Monsters University, and is offered a full-time position as a Scarer at Monsters, Inc. When he gets there, it is the day after the events of the original “Monsters, Inc.” the day they eliminated Scare Power. The job offer was given to him by Waternoose, who has obviously just been arrested, and Monsters, Inc. is no longer employing Scarers. Feeling for him, he is offered a position on the Monsters, Inc. Facilities Team, or MIFT. The recent college graduate is offered a position in his preferred career path, only to find that his field has been decimated by circumstances out of his control. At this point in my life, as I struggle to write my comp and get overwhelmed at the thought of the current job prospects in theatre, “Monsters at Work” hit a little close to home.

Throughout the show, Tylor is frustrated about being placed in MIFT. He is afraid to bond with his fellow MIFTers, who he constantly refers to as “weird.” He is also very vocal about his fear of being “stuck” in MIFT, never gaining status as a Jokester. It is clear he fears his college education was a waste of time, and cites that his family worked very hard to put him through college. He attends Mike’s comedy class every opportunity he gets, only to be constantly told he is not funny enough to be a Jokester. In episode eight, he is told that he is not allowed to try-out to be a Jokester anymore; he auditioned his final time and was told that he simply is not good enough.

As a theatre major, this is also something that hits very close to home. I make no effort to hide about it, and I talk about it often, so I am not afraid to here: I have auditioned for every single show the Playshop Theatre has put on since I started as an Allegheny student in the fall of 2018, with two exceptions. The first was “Everybody” in the fall of 2019, as I chose to do Orchesis instead because they guaranteed everyone who auditioned would be cast in at least one piece. The second was “Bikeman,” which just occurred a couple weeks ago, and I am not really sure what happened there. I missed the memo somehow, but that is okay; I do not really care, especially given how stressed I already am this semester.

All of that being so, I know firsthand what it feels like to audition over and over again only to be told that you are not good enough. In “Monsters at Work,” Tylor goes through the same thing. After he’s told to stop auditioning, he tries to put everything he has into MIFT, and does not do a fantastic job. He struggles, and he pretends to enjoy it, but it is made very clear that he does not want to be in MIFT. Finally, there is a shortage of Laugh Power, and he is asked to be a temporary Jokester. He is finally given a chance to try and show that he has what it takes, and he nails it. He succeeds, and is not only given a position as a Jokester, but his best friend in MIFT, Val, is made his partner. Everything works out for him, and it ends very happily.

I cannot help but relate to Tylor. I have felt constantly underestimated in everything I do, always. More often than I would care to admit, I find myself wondering what my life would be like if someone would give me a chance, if the people that need to notice me and respect me would finally do so, or how different my college career could have been if someone had given me a chance, like Tylor was given. As graduation comes nearer, all I can do is hope that sometime soon, before graduation or after, someone will finally give me a chance.