John Marengo is a professional actor and acting coach based in Bangkok for the last 11 years. Coming to Thailand by coincidence, John fell in love with the country and decided to stay. Everybody who knows Marengo will confirm the fact that his passion for acting is of epic proportions, with intense studies and working experience John’s passion for acting clearly shines through in his passionate dialogues talking about acting.
How did this all start for you?
I was living in Oregon, a small town in the United States. I’ve loved movies since I was a little boy, they’ve always fascinated me. Turning 18, I decided I wanted to be as far as I could be from my hometown. I didn’t have any real skills, so there weren’t a lot of options for me. One day I saw an ad for an acting school. It seemed that they didn’t ask for any previous education, so I decided to become an actor. Going to New York, enrolling in the Academy of Dramatic Arts, I was a little scared at first. But when I learned about the city, everything just started to make sense.
How did this school affect you in being an acting coach now?
Different schools have different approaches. Some schools treat one approach as the ‘holy approach’ while I feel that you can use different techniques together in order to improve the quality of your acting. Take for example the techniques of the great Stanislavski. Taking his technique and tweaking it to what is useful for you is my way of doing it. I take some parts of him, I take some parts of others. Again, in the end, it’s about using it in a way that is useful for you.
Can you tell us about your working experience?
I did a lot, most of my life is about acting, but I didn’t only do that. I’ve been a Private Eye, massage therapist and been in the painting business. All of those jobs were always in between, it was my way of survival. When I started to do acting classes I decided to start my own company called Gymlabs.
What is so beautiful about acting?
The awareness you create about yourself. Improving yourself by training, you see a constant change in who you are. It teaches you who you are. It also makes you understand others and how they feel. For example, if I was to play Adolf Hitler I will become him for that moment. I won’t let my judging affect they way I will portray him. If you can do this I believe you understand what acting is.
What do you teach and how does it work?
My company Gymlabs Communications does several things. I help people with accent reduction, presentation skills etc. I use acting exercises for this. The name Gymlabs is a combination of a gym (to work out) and laboratory. The gym stand for the fact that when you keep on doing the exercises makes you better, the lab stands for exploring and finding new things.
What would you say to aspiring actors in Thailand?
Go for it! Keep on improving yourself. Don’t focus on one technique, or reading all the books. Go out there and learn! Practice makes perfect.
If you could recommend a place to go for people to have a nice dinner, what place would that be?
I like to eat in the small Thai restaurants in my area. I don’t really have a favourite one, so I would suggest everybody just to get out of your comfort zone and try some of the small little gems that are located near your house or condo.
A place to have a drink?
I always like Cheap Charlie’s on Soi 11 because you meet new people there.
A place to dance the night away?
I like Check Inn 99. The vibe there is great. The band is so cool! It’s almost like a mini-Las Vegas.