Sunday, 30 September 2012

Small Parts vs Small Actors

“There’s no such thing as small parts, only small actors.”

I bloody hate this phrase. From the very first time I heard it up until right now, it sends a shiver down my spine that is usually reserved for lecherous directors. It’s the type of phrase that’s tediously wheeled out as often as “It’s not what you know but who you know” and is usually followed by a knowing and fist smackingly smug smile.

Now, I understand the reasoning behind this phrase and, to a point, I completely understand it. Just because you only say a couple of lines, that doesn’t mean you have to sulk and whinge about it forever more. There have been plays I’ve seen where a withering look from a butler became the highlight of my evening. As Bananarama wisely said, “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.”  However, there are actors out there who are obsessed with the amount of lines and stage or screen time that they get. I remember at drama school we were in production where because there were so many of us and so few parts, we had to role share. To sort it out fairly, the director had counted the lines to make sure that those of us who were sharing parts all had pretty much the same amount to do. Can’t argue with that. He had these lines written down on a piece of paper that he kept tucked into his copy of the script. One afternoon he had to leave for a few minutes and left his script on the window sill. Most of us ignored this and merrily got on with whatever it was we were doing at the time (most likely pretending to explore how our character truly feels while having a little nap in the corner.) However, one actor in the group was utterly obsessed with this bit of paper. There wasn’t an hour that went by where he wasn’t musing over who had the most lines. So naturally, as soon as the director was gone, he pounced on this little slip of holy grail. Furiously he devoured it and then proceeded to make notes on everyone’s numbers. The rest of us couldn’t give a casting director’s hugely kissed arse about who had what. It was a second year drama school production that would be seen by no one. If anything, the less lines you had then the less work you had to do which meant more time spent in the student bar. The director returned and the piece of paper was hastily returned back to its resting place. The rest of the afternoon was spent rehearsing a crowd scene that we were all in. What ensued can only be described as the most boring game of Murder where Line Obsessed Actor would whisper to you throughout the scene where you stood in the pecking order. He seemed to take great delight in telling me that out of the five actresses who were sharing the main role, I was the one with the least lines. I took even greater pleasure in reminding him that out of the five actresses, I also happened to have the most dramatic scenes. Disappointment spread across his face like a crumpled tablecloth and he dragged his character-shoed feet onto his next victim.

So yes, I can see the thought behind it and I have to agree with it. However, there’s also a risk of the phrase encouraging some monumental upstaging. If you’ve been given one of those parts that has a pride-crushing lack of lines then you either accept that this piece isn’t going to be the one to bring you fame and fortune or you wring out every single movement and syllable for all it’s worth. And that’s great. For you. But what about the other people who happen to be on stage who are engaging in some pretty serious dialogue. While they’re there furthering the intricate story of the piece, you’re goose stepping in the background making the type of sweeping gestures that should only be reserved for an amateur production of Mary Poppins. There’s making full use of your stage or screen time and then there’s being a dick.

And also there are just times when the part you’ve got just isn’t that wonderful. I saw a play recently that was wonderfully written. The parts were bloody brilliant and everyone had plenty to do all except for one poor actress. Her part was so poorly written and she was the one unlucky soul on stage who really just had nothing to do. You could see in the moments when she wasn’t talking that she was desperately trying to remain engaged and keep up the paper-thin shell of a character she’d been given but sometimes there’s only so much you can do. There’s a limit to how many times you can look surprised or interested or interestingly fiddle with the hem of your skirt before you realise you might as well just sit quietly in the background until it’s time for you to leave. 

So no, maybe there aren’t small parts, maybe there are only small actors. But mainly there are lovely actors and irritating actors and you just have to make sure you’re the right one.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Dramatic Embarrassment

In yesterday's blog, I touched on the subject of telling people that you're an actor. As with any job, if you enjoy what you do then you should be proud to tell people. As soon as someone asks you what it is you do with your time, you should feel the need to shout it from the rooftops. So why, when people ask me what I do, do I feel embarrassed about this silly job I've entered into?

One worry I have when someone asks about my so-called profession is that I'll come off as the type of irritating drama queen that can clear a bar in seconds. I have an almost irrational fear that I'll somehow live up to the horrific stereotype that people have of actors so instead I choose to play down my career choice so much that I'm in danger of convincing them I'm not really an actor at all. Instead of being loud and proud, I'd prefer to make it seem like my job is some sort of dirty secret. And then there's the issue of actually telling people you've chosen to become an actor. Telling someone that I'm a performer feels very much like being a five year old saying they're going to be a princess or prime minister or an astronaut when they grow up. Except I haven't grown up and I'm still holding on to a dream that most people gave up on over 20 years ago. Surely we shuold be congratulated for foolishly clinging on to our dreams and pursuing them regardless of whether it's really a particularly good idea? But instead we worry that we'll get that pitying look that says "Of course you're an actor sweetie. Just like everyone else. See you in the dole queue in a week, love."

But why do we think people will consider us foolish. Is it because other people do proper jobs? They save lives, they teach us things, they sort out our taxes and they serve us crisps at 2am. These people do important things while I'm stuck wondering whether I'm best to apply for the role of a squirrel or a rabbit in an upcoming play. But surely our use is just as important. When those life saving, people teaching, tax sorting, wonderful crisp selling people need a break they'll often switch on the TV or go to the cinema or, if they're feeling particularly brave and flush, they'll visit the theatre. They'll look to the likes of us to entertain them and help us take their mind off things. We'll take them to somewhere different for just a little while. Maybe we'll make them laugh. Maybe we'll make them think. Or maybe we'll just make them feel grateful that they themselves aren't an actor. Whatever we make them feel, why should we feel embarrassed about it? Yes, our job might consist of us pretending to be a horse. Yes, we'll sometimes find ourselves dancing around a decrepit theatre in the style of an ancient devil. But our position in the world is just as valid as everyone else's so it's time for stop the embarrassment and be proud of what we do. Just don't ask me what I do for a living...

Friday, 28 September 2012

It's Oh So Quiet

"So, are you working on anything at the moment?"

As questions go, this (along with, "So tell me what you know about tax...") must be more terrifying to an actor than a full time office job. However, unless you've been hanging out with Curiosity on Mars, if you're an actor then it's highly likely that you field this question on a weekly basis. As soon as someone has asked what you do for a living and you've apologetically told them that you prat about all day in the hope that someone might hire you to play a giraffe, the dreaded question is on its way.

When you're working it's the greatest question on earth. When you've got something thrillingly exciting coming up, you're practically making them ask the question before you've even met. But it's when you've got nothing on that it's a real problem. When your horizon is emptier than an actress' purse, the question can feel like a particularly powerful punch to the stomach. Your answer is instantly negative and you find yourself desperately trying to explain to someone who really doesn't care that the industry is just a bit quiet at the moment and you never know what's around the corner. You start babbling about how it's all "ups and downs" and it's the same for everyone and it's only when you see their eyes glaze over that you trail off into a mumbling silence. If they're sensitive then they'll say something encouraging or they'll change the conversation. However, more often than not they'll try and help out by asking if you've got anything coming up soon. Non-actors, please note: if the actor hasn't mentioned an upcoming project then there isn't an upcoming project. So, when they ask and you tell that there's nothing coming up either, you're left feeling that you're telling a stranger you're the worst actor in the world. Because that's how it looks to outsiders. You're not working on anything and there's not even a job coming up any time soon. Someone call the police, we've got a first-rate bad actress here.

The problem is that it is quiet at the moment. Of course there are people out there working but even casting websites seem quieter at the moment. Usually it takes me hours to filter through all the castings, whether looking for ones to apply for or ones to mock. However, the last few weeks have had a lot less. This time last year I was going to auditions every week. This time around I've completed my third week without being seen by anyone who can stop me from dreading that bloody question cropping up. But sometimes we need these quiet spells. We need those horrifying moments where we terrify ourselves with the thought that we may never work again. We need those 2am worries that we're doing the wrong thing. We need that niggling doubt in the back of our minds from time to time that keeps telling us that this job is a waste of time. Because without all those things we wouldn't fight back and know that despite however down it can make us, however futile it can seem at times, this is still the best bloody job in the world.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Disorganised Time

It was nice to wake up on a Friday morning being offered an audition. Normally my morning emails consist of Groupon offers, a notification that a weird Twitter SEO specialist is following me and a woeful casting call notificatin. So, the message asking me to audition was a lovely addition to my early start.

They were asking me to audition over the weekend and wanted me to let them know when I was available. I had some things planned for the weekend so I quickly set about rearranging them and within half an hour I emailed back asking if I could be seen on Saturday morning. Brilliant. It wasn't even 11am and already I'd arranged an audition for the next day. I saw that they'd attached the script so once I was settled in at work, I opened it up. However, this wasn't an ordinary file and what I was instead faced with was pages and pages of hand-written storyboards wonkily scanned in. Although I was yet to hear back from them confirming that they were able to see me at the time requested, I sent off another message just to let them know that it seemed they'd sent me the wrong file. Either that I was expected to take on the form of a blob and hastily jump around the room for theirv viewing pleasure.

Lunchtime came and went and I was still to hear back from them. My afternoon at work dragged by slower than a student production of King Lear and still nothing. I went home convinced that they'd reply that evening. But no, nothing. It was now 15 hours since I'd replied to their message and I'd still heard nothing. Oh well, I thought. Maybe they'll contact me overnight. But, of course, it won't surprise you to hear that on waking up on Saturday morning it was just Groupon, weird Twitterers and dodgy casting calls. I toyed with the idea of just going along anyway but why should I? If they're not organised to confirm and audition and send a correct attachment then why the heck should I travel for over an hour across London only to find that the auditions probably weren't happening anyway. Plus, if you're unable to organise auditions properly then the chances that your shoot will be a tightly run affair about as likely as me not eating that bag of crisps.

Although mildly irritated by this lack of organisation, I set about my day. If anything, they'd freed up my morning on what was a gloriously sunny day and had made my travel plans a whole lot easier. I whined a bit about it to my mum, then I had an ice cream and forgot about the whole thing. That was until my phone buzzed at 5.30pm. It was a message from the director sending me the correct attachment. That was it. Nothing to acknowledge my audition slot request. No apologies for taking 31 hours to get back to me. In return, they got a rather blunt email and now all is quiet on the disorganised audition front.

Now, I should add that I was dealing with students. So I know they are still learning. Of course they're not going to get everything spot on otherwise they probably wouldn't be training in the first place. But surely you don't need to go to film school to learn everyday common sense? Plus, they don't know what I'd cancelled for that audition. I sometimes work on a Saturday and if an audition came up then I'd drop work like the drop of a hat with a very strong sense of gravity. I don't know how they operate but unnecessarily losing out on a day's pay just because a bunch of students don't understand the very basic workings of replying to an email puts me on the Watership Down level of unhappy bunny status.

Of course, this sort of thing sadly happens all the time. This is the first badly organised audition I've narrowly missed out on and it certainly won't be the last. If I had a pound for everytime an audition was cancelled last minute or I never heard back from a director or I was left waiting for over an hour to been then I'd have amassed a small fortune by now. Maybe that's what needs to happen. Every time a director or a producer or someone else messes an actor arond then they have to give everyone affected a pound. And, on the flip side, everytime an actor fails to turn up to an audition, they too have to give a pound to everyone whose day has been screwed up. Might be time for us all to start saving up.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Resting On The Job

I'm very in demand at the moment. Every day I'm getting emails from various people offering me work. And this would be bloody wonderful if these folk desperate to give me money in return for my services were directors and producers and generally people who would let me act like a fool for cash. But they're not. They're from the people that look the other way and smile pitifully when I talk about my life as an actor. They're my resting jobs.

Unless you're exceedingly lucky, exceptionally rich or went to Eton then it's highly likely that you'll have to take on a resting job while you pursue your wildly optimistic dream of uttering a single line at the Lyttelton. We all like to think that resting means a period of lounging around the house in silk pyjamas. However, the reality is more likely to contain a stint in a call centre, a spot of waitressing, some Front of House jaunting or a bit of drama teaching. They're a necessary evil but if you get it right then they can be just about bearable.

I currently do some work in a call centre. Amazingly, when I mentioned this on Twitter I got a few messages criticising me for doing such work. While I know that cold calls are immensely irritating, so is not having enough food to eat and pay your rent. That heart-sinking feeling you get when you pick up the phone and someone's trying to sell you something? Yeah, well I get that feeling when I look at my bank account and realise that if I live off rice and porridge for the week then I might just scrape by. I know the idea of suffering in a grimy bedsit, putting your art above your need to survive has been somehow romanticised but it's impractical and Quorn Pepperoni is expensive.So yes, that's why I and thousands of other people find themselves donning an extrememly uncomfortable headset everyday and calling people that generally don't want to be called. Funnily enough, none of us want to be there. Call centre work is not a career choice. It's a necessity. And not all call centres are terrible. If you look carefully and try and find the smaller ones then they're actually run rather nicely and don't insist that you're constantly hitting targets. They're flexible, don't mind too much when you drop them at an audition's notice and you often get access to the internet meaning that you can apply for acting jobs while you're working. Also, due to the sheer amount of strangers that you end up talking to, you learn more about humans than you ever thought possible. Just last night I spoke to a man who refused to believe I was calling to speak to his wife because she'd just gone out, a man who only left his house in Manchester to go to Nottingham and a man who had to ask if he needed to wear clothes to attend an interview. Just amazing.

I also do casual work for a company in their post room. I've found it's always worth letting people know that you're happy to do a few hours here and there as it's amazing just how many offices and companies could do with an extra pair of hands every so often. Again, the work is massively tedious but it's another job that allows me to be super flexible. Also, this work has lead to me being asked to do other jobs in the office and has turned into a nice little earner.

Other jobs I've found myself doing have been on the phones at a takeaway where I was constantly shouted at for the fact that we were constantly out of ribs and that our leafleters walked over someone's freshly concreted driveway, leaving large heavy footprints embedded in their front garden. Oh, and I also wasted police time by accidentally calling Holborn Police Station to tell them that we were unfortunately out of vine leaves. I've also worked as a software tester where the highlight of my time there was the fire drill that meant I got to sit outside in the sunshine for 20 minutes and in a clothing company packing factory where I got to fold up cashmere jumpers all day.

And then there are the other actors that you tend to meet when doing these jobs. I like to think that all actors are like all you lovely lot that I get to chat to everyday on Twitter. But they're really not. There's a whole sub-species of actor that, because your castings are wildly different, you would just never get to meet otherwise. There was an actor I met a while ago who refused to speak to actors who hadn't gone to drama school as they clearly didn't have as much to offer as those who had gone. The fact that, despite going to drama school, he was now being forced to work in a call centre seemed to completely pass him by. Then there was the actor who spent the whole training day taking the rest of the group through the long and arduous tale of all the benefits he receives and the very exact details of all the bus routes that he takes. Then, when the supervisor did manage to get a word in, he'd use that opportunity to tell him just where the company was going wrong and the numerous mistakes they'd made over the last twenty years.

These jobs might be soul destroying. They're not what we want to be doing. But, as stopgaps go, there's nothing more grounding than being threatened with legal action because you called someone up while they're trying to have their dinner...

Monday, 17 September 2012

Something Changed

Firstly, if you haven’t already done so, read this…

Pretty shocking, huh? The thought of being involved in a project only to find out that not only have they completely changed what you say but that they’ve also turned it into an anti-Islam film is not a good one. And it got me thinking. Of course, it’s pretty rare to find yourself in such a situation but it did make me realise just how much control we give up.

Now, before we start, I’m happy to say that I’ve never been involved in a film that has ended with me having anti-Islam propaganda dubbed over my ramblings. Far from it. In fact, I’ve only been dubbed once and that was because I’d wildly exaggerated my music playing abilities and the director wasn’t impressed with my quivering version of Three Blind Mice. However, once you’ve finished prancing around in front of the camera, you hand over control to the powers that be and your screen fate is in their twitchy hands. During filming you’ve had wonderful ideas in your head of how the final product will look. In your rose-tinted brain, you’re wonderfully lit and every shot is beautifully framed and captures your every thought and word perfectly. 

But we know that this isn’t the case. What usually happens is that during your main scene, the light was just a bit off or someone failed to spot that the Red Arrows were performing 12 flypasts and your moment to shine instead turns into showcasing you as a disembodied voice. What was once gorgeous showreel material is now far better suited to going on your voicereel . You should be on screen in full cinematic glory but instead you’re reduced to embarrassingly pointing out your arm coming into shot  and trying to work out whether that’s your ear on screen. 

However, what’s even worse is when the damn thing doesn’t see the light of day ever again. The first two commercials I was involved disappeared off the face of the earth, both clearly too awful to even be shown at 1am on Food Network. While neither advert demanded a great deal of my acting talents, I was still excited about being involved in something that might actually make it on to TV. Everyone I’d ever met was on high-alert looking out for it but, after a few months, it’s safe to say that their interest waned. Then, one evening, I saw an advert for one of the products. I shifted to the edge of my sofa and scrutinised the screen hoping to catch a glimpse of myself. Nothing. My mum rang. I just saw the advert on TV. You weren’t in it. I explained that it wasn’t the advert I’d shot and that none of the other people I was filming with were in it either. I convinced myself that it was still to come and held a vigil by my TV for months waiting for it. Finally, after a year, I had to face up to the realisation that it just wasn’t going to be seen by anyone.

But to see it and find that it’s been changed to something entirely different?  I count myself very lucky indeed.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Professional Conduct

It always amazes me when I see castings having to specify that they require actors who are capable of being professional on set. Professionalism shouldn’t be asked for. Like a bottle of water and an eagerly highlighted script, professionalism should be brought with you from day one. But, as anyone who has ever worked with anyone else knows, this often isn’t the case. 

Someone on Twitter mentioned this week that an actress was leaving a production just four days before the show was  to open. Now, I don’t know the ins and outs of this particular story so I won’t comment on it but I have been in productions where an actor has had to leave pretty last minute and being left in the lurch is bloody annoying. The couple of times that it’s happened, I really can’t say that I blamed the actor. They were involved in pretty terrible productions and instead of putting themselves through it, they took the wise decision to bail. However, it’s one thing realising a couple of days into rehearsal that a show is destined for the theatrical bargain bin and another thing waiting until you’re halfway through the tech rehearsal to hand in your scripted notice. Like I said, I understood on both occasions why they did they left. The first ditching happened because he got a paid job. Strangely he was sick and tired of being in a job that didn’t even offer expenses and mainly consisted of us all rehearsing in the dustiest room in north London. Instead of appearing in a show that was wrongly listed in Time Out, he chose to appear in a well-paid film. I was seconds away from hiding in his bag and living off his lucky air. And then the second incident happened because an actor found himself in a fairly horrible situation. There were too many actors with not enough money and we were all away from home. There was bitchiness, bullying and as a man of older years, I don’t blame him for deciding that he shouldn’t put up with such things.

However, the aftermath of these actions mean that everyone else is left picking up the pieces. The director gets a big ol’ kick in the teeth and the actors have to suddenly work a whole lot harder. Either they’re having to cover the role between them or they have to support a new cast member coming in at very late notice. The whole production starts running on panic mode and the atmosphere changes dramatically. Actors will start wondering whether they too should jump this rapidly sinking ship and the director and producer get the same look of desperation in their eyes as the captain of Titanic did.
But a bit of last minute escapism isn’t the only way an actor can be unprofessional. A moment that will always stick with me was during a rehearsal for the complicated final scene of a play I was in. It was at that point when everyone is ready to kill each other. We’d been rehearsing for hours, it was hot and every single line and movement was being agonised over. Suddenly a mobile phone rings. Normally you’d expect the owner of the phone to apologise profusely and switch it off. However, this actor was a pain in everyone’s arse. So, of course, he answered it. And he didn’t go to one side and deal with the call quickly. Oh no. He decided the best place to take the call was right in the middle of the scene. The director tried to ask him to finish the call or at least move elsewhere and the actor asked him to not interrupt his call. I know actors like to react to everything but I think even the least reactive hermit in the world would be aghast at such behaviour. How he kept his job, I’ll never know.

And then there’s all the other annoying things that actors do. They turn up late and destroy hours of rehearsal time. They don’t learn their lines and are still stumbling over them on the opening night. They appoint themselves as assistant director and take great pleasure in giving actors unconstructive notes. They turn up to rehearsals still drunk from the night before and despite having a kissing scene, they fail to brush their teeth. They get drunk and tell other cast members that they’re not very good actors. They tell the director/stage manager/costume designer/front of house how to do their job. They take costumes home and lose them. They upstage you just so that the scene works for them. 

They say you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. However, the saddest thing for an actor is that you can’t choose your fellow cast members. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Drama School

About this time 9 years ago, I’d just started drama school. I still thought that practice skirts mattered and that as long as I read every single acting theory book on the planet, I’d be employed for the rest of my life. I had my leotard, my character shoes, a copy of Keith Johnstone’s Impro and I was ready to take on the world (or at least a very poor staged version of Antony and Cleopatra.)

It’s very interesting to see that the actress Clare Higgins is in the process of setting up a free drama school for those who are unable to support themselves through training. It’s a great initiative because drama school fees are crippling. They hurt you to the very depths of your bank balance and will pull on purse strings that you didn’t even know existed. And you don’t even have a guarantee of making that money back any time soon. If you’re lucky you might get a wonderful role as soon as you leave and you’ll never have to worry about those pesky fees ever again. However, it’s far more likely that, 9 years on, you’re still nowhere near paying back your student loan and that the money you’ve made so far might come somewhere close to paying back a year’s worth of fees if you’re seriously lucky. Of course, you can get a part time job but the ridiculous hours of drama school make this seriously difficult. When you start adding a part time job to a full time course with more overtime than a boss cheating on his wife, you soon get to the point where you never  get a moment to yourself. And oh my, if you’ve been to drama school then you will understand just how important time away from other people is.

Living in a bubble for three years is tough. You spend over 40 hours a week with the same 30 or so people and, very soon, you start to go mildly insane. It starts with wanting to go on your own to lunch and soon descends into having terrible thoughts about clumsy classmates and strategically placed cheese wire. Personalities and mannerisms that at first seemed so fun quickly become more irritating than someone scratching their nails down a blackboard while you wear a mohair jumper and bite down on a towel. The way they say ‘theatre’ will start to grate on you and it won’t be long before you’re getting into an argument with someone over the fact that they refuse to highlight their lines.
I thought drama school would be a bloody blast. I knew it would be hard work but I thought much of my time would be filled with laughter. And it was fun. But it was bloody tedious too though.  There’s a lot of time spent watching other people struggle through lines, make poor character decisions and have their voice/posture/self esteem ripped to shreds. You see, the problem is that you go to drama school thinking that this is finally your chance to take the limelight for three years but instead it’s just a good education in how the rest of your life is likely to pan out. Drama school is just the first step in teaching you that most of the time you’ll be sharing the limelight with a whole load of other attention-desperate people which means that you’ll actually spend a lot of time lurking in the shadows wondering why you didn’t do a law degree instead. 

The problem is that everyone wants their moment of attention and, because rarely are there projects where you’ll be working solo, they get it. Although I learnt many valuable lessons while at drama school (Don’t get through nearly a whole bottle of vodka the night before a dance showing. You won’t be able to walk after doing two hours of capoiera in bare feet.  And, regardless of what you say, you do care about your casting in every bloody show) the main thing I learnt is every single hang up everyone else in my year had. It’s tedious, tiresome but it’s also a necessary evil. There are thirty five actors/lapsed actors out there and I know every single one of their foibles. I know the ones with sibilant s’s, the ones who can’t read and the ones who are secretly from Birmingham. And the problem is that, unless you’re the pushiest of all the pushy people, you’ll find that there’s someone who is pushier than you. This means that most classes will become about those few people. All this calls for is a deep breath, a loud voice and the guts to annoy people for a few years. I wish I’d done it more and I tell you now, you won’t regret it 

The pushiest people are, I’m afraid, the ones who do well at drama school. They’ll end up being the ones that are helped that bit more and get all the breaks. I spoke to a director at an audition a few months ago and he admitted that he now refuses to direct third year drama school shows because of the politics involved. He told me that although students are told it’s the director making the casting decisions, it’s actually the year heads and acting tutors. They would essentially tell him who to cast in the lead roles, regardless of whether they were suitable or not and it became about which actors they wanted to be seen rather than which ones deserved to be noticed.

But of course, if you asked me if I’d enjoyed drama school then I’d say that yes, I did. If you’re going to drama school this year or next year or any other years that come after that then, chances are, you’ll absolutely love it. There will be days when you’ll to make a tent out of your character skirt and cry under it all day. And then there will be days when you’ll want to run down the street naked screaming to the world about how lucky you are to be spending three years doing something you love in such a protective bubble. But mostly, there will be days whether you really need character shoes in the outside world.